Storm Blows Steeple Off Church

Storm Blows Steeple Off Church
By: Arnold Wyrick

ANNA, IL --Was it sign from above, or some other force that struck down upon the Anna Heights Baptist Church?  That's just one of the many questions church members are asking themselves on Monday.
Church goers had just let out from Sunday services when the skies over Anna opened up, unleashing a ferocious storm.  Along with the heavy rain, and winds, a lightning bolt blew the steeple apart.  Sending it crashing to the ground in pieces.
"My son was driving by, he's an Illinois State Trooper, and he noticed some debris in the street.  So he stopped and picked it up and tossed it into the church yard.  But then as he was driving away he looked into his rear view mirror, and saw half the steeple was missing.  It was just like someone had taken a knife and cut it in half," says Don Laster.
It that wasn't bad enough, when the steeple blew off the roof, it left a gaping hole.  And the rain came pouring into the sanctuary.
"The front half of the steeple was gone.  So water was pouring in and around the baptistery.  Most of the ceiling tiles and insulation in that area of the ceiling are now in the bottom of the baptismal," Laster said.
At one point another church member, and contractor who build the church were actually up in the base of the steeple trying to prevent the final pieces from falling, and possibly punching a huge hole in the roof.  But just as they thought they had it secured the wind shifted.
"Larry's head was probably even with the bottom of that when it was cracking and going.  It was very dangerous where he was at.  I immediately got away when I heard it cracking, and got underneath some steel beams.  I just covered my head and let it go," says Bob Dover.
Now church leaders say they're going to let the steeple go altogether.  Instead of replacing it, they plan to remove the remainder of the base, and seal over the area.  Church services were canceled for Sunday evening.  The congregation will meet in the family hall until the ceiling can be repaired in the main sanctuary.