Housewarming ceremony held at Joplin home built in an Illinois church basement

Updated September 26, 2013: This summer we told you about a church outside of Chicago building a house for a Joplin tornado victim in the basement of their church. The youth constructed all of the walls and roof of the home in their church basement, brought the pieces to Joplin, then reassembled it.

On Thursday, representatives from the First United Methodist Church of Elgin, Illinois and Rebuild Joplin hosted a housewarming ceremony for homeowner Emily Morrison.

“It is literally the foundation of life, of family life, home is the center of your family, it is the anchor point for everything that you do,” says Morrison.

Volunteers had been working on the home since February.

Updated June 10, 2013: Last month we told you about a church outside of Chicago building a house for a Joplin tornado victim in the basement of their church. The youth constructed all of the walls and roof of the home in their basement, to be transported by truck in pieces to Joplin in time for the youth’s mission trip.

That time has finally arrived.

Emily Morrison has waited over two years to see her home be rebuilt after the Joplin tornado. On Monday she told us it’s hard to believe the day has finally come where her home goes from empty field to a reality, all thanks to a church in Elgin, Illinois.

“My story’s a dime a dozen, and to be singled out and made unique is really something, it’s amazing,” says Emily.

T he church began building and sponsoring Emily’s House months ago and the group of 48 have spent countless hours piecing it together in their basement.

“First thing we had to do was figure out if we could get the house out of the church, so we built a wall, and we could get it out so we started about February,” says Mark Johnson, the project leader of the First United Church of Elgin Youth (on Facebook).

T he group transported the entire house in a 26 foot truck in pieces and will have five days to get as much done as possible for Emily. After months of phone calls with her the group was excited to put a face to the name.

“That’s really what it’s all about – it’s not about building, it’s about relationships,” Mark says.

“I was really surprised she was working with us, so I was happy about that too, because then we can get to know her a little bit more too,” says Trey Iwanski of First United Church of Elgin, Youth.

The youth group says they hope to have the walls up and the roof secure by the end of Friday before they return to Illinois on Saturday morning.

“I feel a connection of gratitude, really, it’s deep,” says Emily.

Emily says she plans on working with the group to build her home all week. She says once the Elgin Church leaves more Rebuild Joplin crews will come in their place and hope to complete the project by August.

Posted May 2, 2013: A youth group is building a home for a Joplin tornado victim, from the basement of their church in Elgin, Illinois.

Emily Morrison lost her home in the Joplin tornado. After issues of fraud and struggles to rebuild on her own, she hesitantly reached out to Rebuild Joplin for help.

“I had absolutely no hope at that point, and just all of a sudden it’s going to be ok, that was amazing,” says Morrison.

The home isn’t being built in Joplin, however.

It is being constructed in the basement of First United Methodist Church of Elgin, Illinois, a church 600 miles away, and will be brought over in pieces by Truck-A First for Rebuild Joplin.

“Working to get someone home in another state, for me personally, it’s been inspiring,” says Thomas Corley of Rebuild Joplin. “Powerful to see a group of kind hearted, loving people, in Chicago, that are so moved by Joplin, and the people in need that they want to offer this, they want to offer a fully funded house, that they will truck down here and give to Emily.”

Church leaders say this will be their fourth trip to Joplin since the tornado and that the youth group is working two days a week with the homeowner in mind.

They’re even talking up the project in a YouTube clip.

Not only are the youth in Illinois taking on the project, but they’re offering to fund it as well, hoping to raise $40,000 for materials, another first at Rebuild Joplin.

“It’s abnormal,” says Corley. “Volunteer groups usually do not do this and that’s what makes it really exciting.”

According to Rebuild Joplin, Morrison’s new home will be ready by the end of the summer.

Morrison says she can’t wait to put down roots on her lot once again.

“My home, that nobody can remove me out of or anything else, it’s a really exciting feeling,” says Morrison.

Morrison says she has complete confidence in the Illinois team and is excited to come home in a few months.

The church group will be in Joplin for five days beginning June 9 to assemble the pieces into a home.

To donate or for more information visit