Church Catches Fire
AP, July 3, 2003
FOREST, Ohio — A guest evangelist was preaching at the First Baptist Church in a small Hardin County town Tuesday night, emphasizing penance and asking for a sign from God. At that moment, the church’s steeple was hit by lightning, setting the church on fire and blowing out the sound system. “It was awesome, just awesome,” said church member Ronnie Cheney, 40, of rural Forest.
“You could hear the storm building outside … He (the evangelist) just kept asking God what else he needed to say,” Cheney said. “He was asking for a sign and he got one.” Cheney said the lightning traveled through the microphone and enveloped the preacher, but he was not injured. Afterward, services resumed for about 20 minutes, but then the congregation realized that the church was on fire and the building was evacuated. The Forest Fire Department quickly doused the flames. Damage was estimated at $20,000. Forest is about 60 miles south of Toledo.