Stunned Worshipers Remember the Sluss Family

Post a Comment » Written on February 5th, 2007     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

DELAND, FL (February 5, 2007) – Roses lay on the three seats normally occupied by the Sluss family at Community Covenant Church on Sunday.

Michael and Melinda Sluss were killed when a tornado ripped through their prefabricated home around 3 a.m. Friday. Their 16-year-old son, Aaron, remains hospitalized.

“We always sit behind them, so it was pretty tough,” says Nils Swanson, whose own car was destroyed by a separate hurricane. “Everybody’s been taking it pretty hard.”

Sluss family“They were there all the time,” adds retired Evangelical Covenant Church Pastor Jim Swanson, noting that the family had been charter members of the church, which was planted three years ago. The congregation recently elected Melinda to the church council.

The mood at Sunday’s service was “somber,” Jim says. Flowers also were placed on the communion table. Pastor Dave Shaw spoke about the need to depend on the mercy of God, and Associate Pastor Craig Lee shared about the Lord’s faithfulness after the Lee family home was destroyed in a hurricane.

Nearly 60 people attended the service – the church averages 30 worshipers. The congregation meets in a building owned by a local Assembly of God church. That structure was not damaged.

The Orlando Sentinel carried a front-page story today on the Sluss family. The parents were among 20 fatalities that resulted from the tornadoes, some of which exceeded 160 mph. To read that article, please see Sluss Family.

The power of the storm was evidenced not only by the deaths and destruction, but also by unusual occurrences. According to the paper, a woman more than 30 miles away from the Sluss home found a check written by Michael. The recovery of the check offered hope that more personal items might be found elsewhere, Melinda’s mother told the newspaper.

Michael Sluss, who shoed horses, had converted a barn into a blacksmith shop, but the storm decimated the building, which friends and family searched for personal items on Sunday.

A relative told the Sentinel she expects Aaron to be released by the end of the week. Friends are rallying to help.

The youth group has gathered clothes for the teenager, a home-schooling group was raising money to replace his guitar, and a benefit at a roller rink was scheduled for this evening, Jim says. Kurt Miericke, superintendent of the Southeast Conference, said today that a fund would be set up to assist Aaron.

The Swansons are recovering from the heavy damage inflicted on their home by a different tornado that struck at 4:30 a.m. Friday. Nils is director for Covenant Enabling Residences of Florida and has been living with his father, Jim, and mother, Beverly, in New Smyrna Beach.

The tornado struck quickly without warning. “There was no time to do anything,” recalls Jim.

The twister sounded like a freight train ramming through their house. He adds the tornado  “also had a thud, thud, thud sound, which could have been the cars flipping over and the things coming off the roof.”

Blue tarp covered portions of the house today. Nils says the family spent Friday morning getting rid of water that had poured through the ceiling and windows.

Neighbors are helping each other pick up the pieces. A local United Methodist congregation has a disaster relief team. By Friday afternoon, they had begun helping the Swanson’s cover their roof.

Jim says the family was more fortunate than others in the neighborhood, whose homes were destroyed. The storm picked up a neighbor’s pickup truck and deposited it between two homes. A toolbox that had been bolted to the truck was found a quarter mile away.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog