PHILADELPHIA, Pa.—On Sunday morning, Feb. 15, people who were gathered for the 10:00 worship service at Burholme Baptist Church had no idea that just outside the building, disaster had struck. Dangerously high, frigid winds had caused the steeple to collapse.
“The Lord perfectly parked our steeple in an alley between two masonry buildings,” says Charles App Jr., pastor of the church for 36 years. “He mercifully and miraculously delivered us all with no one hurt. No passengers were waiting at the bus stop in front of the church; no pedestrians were walking in front of the church; no motorists were passing our church in their buses, cars, and trucks; no worshipers were hurt in Bible study and prayer in the church building.”
The Northeast Times calls the incident “an example of a bad thing happening in the best possible way.”
The 36-foot steeple, with its accompanying bell tower, is an original structure of the 1929 building. Philadelphia’s NBC 10 calls it a landmark of the Northeast Philly skyline.
Immediately following the collapse, firefighters entered the church and evacuated the building, explaining what had happened. That day, members began cleaning up the debris, and a contractor started working at the site on Monday. Burholme Baptist Church is deciding whether or not to rebuild its steeple, although if it does rebuild, the new structure may be on a smaller scale. App says, “We don’t want to face this again.”
Emergencies such as this are why Baptist Builders Club began its Disaster Relief ministry. Through this new avenue of assistance, Baptist Builders Club coordinates and manages donations to help churches that have experienced disasters and mobilizes teams of FEMA-trained people who are ready to help.