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Lightning strike sets Abilene church on fire minutes before congregation arrives

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: May 15 2013 10:16:54 PM CDT
Updated On: May 16 2013 04:01:14 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

The Trinity Church of the Nazarene was struck by lightning around 6:50 p.m. The attic above the fellowship hall was in flames minutes before the congregation arrived for Wednesday night services.

Pastor Todd Forrest said he was expecting a typical Wednesday night at church, but just before he pulled up, he realized it would be anything but.

"The lightning bolt had just hit so I did see it come down from the sky. I was heading north on Willis and I was about half a mile from here, but it was still loud. It was just a single bolt, no other bolts in sight," said Todd, co-pastor at the Church of Nazarene Trinity. 

Todd said although he was stunned to see his church on fire, he handled the news very well.

"I was actually strangely calm. I wasn't really that upset, although I know it was burning, my first thought was, ‘what's in there that's irreplaceable’ and the next thing was, ‘nothing,’ cause there was no people in there yet," said Todd.

Todd said it could have been much worse and that perhaps a higher power intervened.

"I was scared when I saw it. At first I’m like, ‘what, wait,’ but you know everybody called in late, everybody got delayed somehow," Raquel Forrest, co-pastor of the church said. 

"We were about to open up the building for Wednesday night prayer meeting and for the teen group, so just a good thing it was all empty," Todd said. 

What is next for the Trinity Church of the Nazarene?

"We’ll just have to assess what we can salvage from the building. We do have insurance thankfully, again thank God, and we'll just see if we can build an even better structure coming up," Todd said.