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HOYLETON, Ill. (KSDK) - Just five minutes separate Trinity Lutheran Church in Hoyleton, Ill. and St. John's Lutheran in New Minden. A deadly tornado brought both congregations together Wednesday night.

Hundreds turned out in Hoyleton for a community-wide prayer vigil for New Minden families who lost homes during the November 17 tornado.

"We thank our cousins here at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hoyleton for hosting our service tonight," said Rev. Tim Mueller from the pulpit. Just minutes down the road, workers attended to Mueller's tornado damaged church, minus the roof and steeple.

"It's not the building, it's the people that are in the building that makes our church," said St. John's member Kelly Deering. "It's very emotional to have everybody together again tonight."

Not everyone in New Minden escaped with their lives. Brother and sister Joseph and Francis Hoy
were killed on their farm.

"Frances, being disabled, was unable to go downstairs. Her brother Joe, naturally would not leave her upstairs alone and stayed with her," said Rev. Mueller.

Housing and food are the immediate needs being addressed by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod disaster response ministry.

"There's an immediate grant of $10,000 released right now to help with short-term housing, probably help buy food cards," said Rev. Bart Day, of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

The official name for what happened in Hoyleton is disaster response ministry. More simply, it's the kindness of strangers in times of need.

"The outpouring of community," said Kelly Deering, "not only just from the local area with the people from Missouri, with the people from neighboring communities that have come in and brought busloads of people to help us put things back together."

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