A guest evangelist at First Baptist Church in Forest was preaching about penance and asking for a sign on Tuesday night, when the church’s steeple was hit by lightning, setting the church on fire and blowing out the sound system.
“It was awesome, just awesome,” said church member Ronnie Cheney, 40, of rural Forest, who was in the church at 206 N. Martin St. when the lightning struck.
“You could hear the storm building outside … He (the evangelist) just kept asking God what else he needed to say,” Cheney said. “He was asking for a sign and he got one.”
At about 7:45 p.m., lightning hit the church’s steeple, went through the electrical wiring and blew out the church’s sound system. Cheney said the lightning traveled through the microphone and enveloped the preacher, but he was not injured.
Afterward, services resumed for about 20 minutes, but then the congregation realized that the church was on fire and the building was evacuated.
According to Forest Fire Chief Doug Hawkin, his crew, along with the Kenton and Wharton fire departments, responded to the scene.
After firemen arrived they saw flames coming from the steeple. Firemen doused the blaze, remaining at the scene about three hours.
“It was kind of interesting hearing the preacher talk about what had happened,” Hawkin admitted.
There were no injuries.
Damage to the church was estimated at about $20,000.
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