WEST, Texas — The First Baptist Church of West gathered together in a field Sunday to remember the tragic events of the West explosion in 2013.

Members say they hope the lessons they learned seven years ago will help them overcome the COVID-19 crisis as well.

FBC has been holding a service in the field, located on Reagan Road near the West Fairgrounds, on the first Sunday after April 17th since the explosion rocked the city.

This year, due to coronavirus concerns and shelter-in-place orders, the church decided to hold a drive-in service to allow members to participate in the yearly tradition.

“This day and this place mean a whole lot to us. It’s a part of our story,” church pastor John Crowder said.

Crowder was in West when the explosion occurred.

He said the church was included within the government’s blockade, meaning members could not get to the building.

As a result, the church met in the field by the Fairgrounds with a borrowed set of speakers and some borrowed chairs.

“The fact that we overcame the adversity we had seven years ago, and the fact that we do this every year and will continue to do this for many years to come is a blessing,” member John Hurtick said.

Now, in the middle of a pandemic, Crowder says he sees similarities between today’s service and the one they held seven years ago.

“That day was the first day we finally got to be back together,” Crowder said. “And in a way today is reliving that experience.”

They say the community response has been overwhelming.

“The way to get through this disaster is the way we got through that one,” Crowder said. “That way is trusting God and helping one another to get through the time together.”

“We’ll overcome this. We’ll get through it and we will get back to normal. This is not normal,” Hurtick said.

The church plans to resume streaming services next weekend, but they said today it was important to see their community face-to-face.

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