Lightning strike hits church steeple, sparks fire

Lightning strike hits church steeple, sparks fire (Image 1)

The steeple at Trinity Church of the Nazarene lay on the ground in ash and rubble Friday morning, but the church is standing tall.

Storms that blew through Middle Tennessee Thursday night touched down on top of the church that sits on Vultee Boulevard in south Nashville.

“The church steeple had taken a direct hit from a lightning strike and had blown it completely off and was lying in the parking lot on fire,” said Nashville Fire Department Chief Ricky Taylor.

The church pastor and his wife were in the parsonage adjacent to the sanctuary at the time. When they heard the storms, they knew they were in trouble.

“It was thunder. It was a loud clap,” said Pastor Mike Proctor. “We knew it was a direct hit. I mean, the light went out for about 30 seconds, and we just knew it was a direct hit there.”

It was several minutes before the couple knew how bad things were.

“As my wife and I went over there, she noticed it and she began to cry,” Proctor said. “[She] was screaming out 'The church is on fire! The church is on fire!' Of course, part of it broke, knocked it on this side. We were on the other side.”

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to a small portion of the roof, but Friday morning water damage appeared to have reached multiple layers of the building. Plastic covered pews on the main floor of the sanctuary and in the choir loft. Water covered audio equipment and carpet in the same loft.

With only 50 members, the congregation of Trinity Church of the Nazarene is small in number, but they're large in faith and have weathered storms before. Hail damaged the sanctuary roof in March. Repairs were being finished this week. The church was also struck by lightning nearly five years ago.

Following Thursday's storms, Pastor Proctor told Nashville's News 2 church services, vacation bible school and a Saturday night skate party will go on as planned despite the new damage.

Repairs will be made, and the steeple will be rebuilt.

“Steeples point to heaven, point to God, but it's us, created in the image of God, [we're] supposed to point to Him, and we'll do that. We'll point to Him during this time,” said Proctor.

No injuries were reported.

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