In July 9 IssueBy Greg WellsTimes Journal Managing Editor
The roof of the sanctuary at Clear Springs Baptist Church collapsed sometime around 3 p.m. this past Tuesday.
Parishioners gathered on the grounds with church leaders when the news of the even spread. As they talked together words of praise passed one to another.
They thanked God that it had not happened last Sunday, or this Wednesday night, or two weeks ago when the pews, now crushed by the weight of the roof, were filled with children during Bible school.
Lowell Hopper said that his is a God of miracles, and it was a miracle that no one had been in the building when it caved in.
Mike Foley and some of the other men of the church gathered near one of the doors. They decided that they had finished the new sanctuary in 1995.
"You know we're a missionary church," Foley said. "We go out and help others build churches."
He explained that the members had built the sanctuary, with the help of other missionary churches, in 6 days.
After building the shell in one biblical work week, Foley said the members went on to do the electrical work, drywall and plumbing.
Pastor Cleveland Johnson said they had all put a lot of love and attention to detail into constructing and finishing the building. The ceiling of the sanctuary was made of broad pine boards, which Johnson said they had covered with at least three layers of varnish.
The insulation that was above that ceiling spread into the foyer of the sanctuary like a gray snow. The trusses that made up that ceiling and roof is smashed and lies in one large section inside the church.
The long walls that made up the sides of the building are bowed outward. Whether the walls brought the roof down or the roof pushed the walls out as it collapsed inward is not known, the pastor said.
Either way, he said, the church will go on. He said the church's fellowship hall can accommodate them for services and the Sunday school rooms were untouched by the disaster.
What is to come for the sanctuary in the near future is not clear, Johnson said. He and others said it is likely the sanctuary will have to be razed to be rebuilt, but there are things to be thankful for the pastor said.
"At least there wasn't a fire," Johnson said. "The rest of the building is fine."
After 40 years in this church, and at his age the pastor said he thought he was beyond a building project, but there was surely a reason for it all.
"That building served us well for 13 years," Johnson said. "It stood through wind and rain storms and heavy snows."