MOBERLY — As Sunday school was letting out and the congregation began to take their seats in the sanctuary at the Coates Street Presbyterian Church, a bolt of lightning struck the west side of the church’s steeple.
The 14-year-old boy who rings the church’s bell had rung it only a few minutes before the lighting struck, said Donna Fainter, a secretary with the church.
“I was actually sitting in the sanctuary, pretty much right underneath where the bell is… and we heard the biggest, loudest boom I’ve ever heard in my life,” said Mary Riley, Christian education director for youth. “I thought it was one of the transformers we had outside.”
The lighting strike, which hit at approximately 10:20 a.m. Sunday, damaged the bell tower and left a large opening on the west side. Other roof damage occurred, but an official assessment had not been completed as of Monday morning.
A small fire started as a result of the strike, but was quickly contained by the Moberly Fire Department. Damages to the church were estimated at $30,000, according to the fire report. Church staff are waiting to meet with the insurance company and engineers to determine the full cost to repair the damage, Riley said.
“We are waiting to talk to the insurance company now,” Riley said.
No injuries were reported, though there were many people in the church when the strike occurred, Moberly Fire Chief George Albert said.
“It’s a pretty scary thought to realize you were sitting in a building that got struck,” Riley said. “But considering the number of people that were here, it’s a miracle that nobody was hurt.”
Power was shut off to the building after the strike. As of Monday morning, power had been restored to the west side of the church that houses the offices and education wing.
The congregation began to evacuate just after the strike, Riley said. Though there was some damage to the interior of the steeple, there was no other reported damage to the interior of the church, she said.
Sections of the road adjacent to the church were still closed as of Monday morning.