MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) – A church was destroyed when a Mt. Juliet strip mall caught fire early Wednesday morning.
According to the Mt. Juliet Fire Department, the fire began after lightning struck the roof of Friendship Community Church in the strip mall on Lebanon Road around 2 a.m.
“We can tell it was lightning because of the blunt force in the roof,” said Mt. Juliet Fire Chief Jamie Luffman.
Chief Luffman helped fight the flames, but his work didn’t end when the fire was out.
Friendship had Youth Bible Study scheduled for Wednesday night. With nowhere to go, Luffman asked several local churches if they could house the 100 kids expected to show up to worship.
“I didn’t want them to miss out on an opportunity to teach their youth that this is how you overcome the things that happen,” said Chief Luffman.
Green Hill Church opened its doors for Friendship’s bible study.
“We just wanted to invite students from Friendship to worship with our students,” said pastor Daryl Crouch. “To let them know we’re all in this together.”
Lisa Miller-Rich is Friendship’s Outreach Minister. She took the lightning as a sign from above and while grateful for the community’s help, isn’t surprised.
“It seems like the world is in decline but then there are all these beautiful moments” she said. “What’s happening here is what’s going on day after day in our community. So you lean into it and you feel safe but not surprised.”
Friendship Community Church was in the process of moving buildings, so they’ll have a new home soon.
However, their food bank also burned in the fire so they’re asking for donations. Non-perishable food donations can be dropped off at Shiloh Plaza at 15285 Lebanon Road, Old Hickory, Tennessee, from Monday to Thursday between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mt. Juliet Trophy, Danner Karate, and the Vape Place were also damaged by the fire.