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Church ministers to tornado victim’s family

A UMNS Report by Tita Parham*
Feb. 5, 2007

The family of Carl Gordon had been preparing for his wedding; now they are planning for his funeral.



The Rev. James Holden leads a service at Christ United Methodist Church in Leesburg, Fla. A UMNS Web-only photo courtesy of e-Review Florida.  

Gordon, 20, was engaged to marry Alisi Miller on April 14. The couple had met Feb. 1 with his pastor, the Rev. James Holden of Christ United Methodist Church in Leesburg, Fla., for premarital counseling.

But shortly after midnight on Feb. 2, Gordon was killed when a tornado ripped through his Lady Lake neighborhood, where he recently had rented a mobile home. The storm system killed 20 people and damaged thousands of homes in central Florida.

Gordon's fiancé and a neighbor began searching for him after he did not arrive for work on the day of the storms. They found his body and the heavily damaged mobile home, which the storm had picked up and thrown.

Holden said Gordon had been in good spirits in his last meeting with the couple. "There was lots of laughter and excitement that last night," Holden said. "Who would have thought five hours later he would be dead. … This is a big struggle for them. It's just devastating all around."

Gordon was the third of seven siblings, ages 23, 21, 20, 18, 16, 9 and 6. His father, an electrician, is raising the four youngest children.

Holden said a big part of the church's outreach has been ministering to the family, who live down the street from the church parsonage in the neighborhood behind the church.

The pastor described Gordon's father, Scott Gordon, as a dedicated worker and the family as living close to the poverty line. He said the church had helped in a variety of ways beyond encouraging them to participate in church activities. Among them: keeping the cars running and the telephone connected.

Holden had met regularly with Gordon, his dad and his siblings because they were committed to drawing closer as a family and said they had made much progress.

They "had really gotten to a great place," the pastor said.

Funeral services are scheduled for Feb. 8 in Leesburg.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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