Lightning struck twice for a South Ozone Park church Wednesday night.
First, it was COVID-19 that forced The Spirit and Truth Christian Church to close, only re-opening two weeks ago. And then on Wednesday, July 22, a massive thunderstorm rolled through the South Ozone Park neighborhood, sending a lightning bolt into the steeple and causing heavy exterior fire destruction and some interior damage to the interior sanctuary.
Parishioners were outside the church at 134-02 Sutter Ave. working with city officials to remove property from the wooden building that is more than 70 years old.
“I felt like crying when I saw it because we only started coming back like two weeks ago and now we’re out again,” said Sonia Mondah who came with her family to help with the salvage and show support for her pastor.
The building was recently renovated, a new roof installed not long ago. The fire caused heavy damage to vinyl siding that closed off a former round stained glass window that blew out some years back due to heavy winds from another storm — damage too expensive to replace for the small congregation.
Pastor Daniel Marimuthu, who has presided over the church that has hosted more than 100 people each Sunday for the past 30 years, currently has more than 200 congregants overall. He worked with Fire and Buildings officials to determine the structural damage that might undermine the 50 foot tall steeple topped with a big white cross. He then surveyed the interior with officials and an adjuster from his insurance company that he hopes will be able to get their church fixed quickly.
Buildings officials kept people clear from the most vulnerable parts of the steeple, and have suggested that a sidewalk shed be installed to protect workers and congregants. It has yet to be determined whether the entire steeple will need to be removed or just be stabilized. Officials used an FDNY bucket to make a closer inspection, but final determinations will be made later, officials say.
“It makes me very sad to see it this way,” Beadasie said. “Yes, it was an act of God but as human beings, we hurt to see this. It seems that the structure of the building is pretty much good. We thank God it’s not worse.”