No, this isn’t the Onion.
A rural church in Pennsylvania was forced to shut down its Sunday worship services after lightning, technically considered an “Act of God” in legal terms, struck the building’s steeple and started a fire on Saturday.
On Scene: working church fire route 31 in Ruffsdale . Tower 26 on the job pic.twitter.com/3GOKrY6X8Z
— Lloyd Crago (@Firechief26) May 12, 2018
Lightning struck the steeple of Christ Reformed Church in East Huntingdon, PA, at around 6:00 PM on Saturday. The strike caused a fire in the steeple, and there was water damage in the sanctuary and the basement (presumably from firefighting efforts), according to local reports.
Fire crews responded to the Ruffsdale section of the township shortly after 6 p.m. to a report lightning had struck the Christ Reformed Church on Route 31.
That lightning strike sent flames and smoke pouring from the church steeple.
There was no word on whether anyone was injured as a result of the fire.
Amber Guynn, an employee of neighboring Schaeffer’s Corner Market, said that she didn’t see the lightning strike but that she could see flames spilling out of the roof.
“It was definitely on fire,” she said.
The fire was contained relatively quickly, and no injuries have been reported by anyone, so that’s all good news. Still, if I were a believer in divine providence – the idea that God intervenes in the world – I would think twice about attending that church.
What I mean by that is, if you believe God blesses those who do good and punishes those who do bad, a lightning strike at your church has got to be pretty unsettling. Especially considering that strike took the building’s power out and started a fire, which damaged the building and forced leadership to cancel services.
While the church is definitely reopening, the pastor says he’s not sure what his sermon will be about when that happens. I’d be confused, too.
The Rev. S. Dennis Kletzing isn’t quite sure what his sermon topic will be when his East Huntingdon church reopens once damage caused by a lightning strike Saturday is repaired.
“I can tell you, though, that a real nice sermon I had all set for Mother’s Day went unused,” said Kletzing, pastor of Christ Reformed Church.
Kletzing and members of the church were happy the damage wasn’t worse.
“I was told by firefighters that since the fire struck the top of the steeple the fire was not able to spread up … It had to go down, which takes longer. Also, we were fortunate that someone happened to be driving by and saw the lightning strike and immediately telephoned firefighters, and firemen were here within a few minutes,” Kletzing said.
“If it would have happened about 3 a.m. and no one saw it, it would have had a chance to spread and been a lot worse,” Kletzing said.
Kletzing is correct that it could have been a lot worse, but imagine what they might be saying if this lightning struck a Satanic Temple. The Bible itself says that God “sends his lightning to flash across the whole sky,” and that he causes natural disasters in general, so I think the members of this church have some serious thinking to do.