Lightning Strike May Have Damaged Church

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WILKES-BARRE -- A section of a street in Luzerne County is closed while crews work on part of a church they believe was damaged by lightning.

Part of Academy Street, between South River and South Franklin is closed

The 82-foot pinnacle of St. John’s Lutheran Church along Academy Street was hit last Thursday, according to a city spokesperson.

Crews said they noticed something was wrong when they found a piece of the pinnacle in the street.

Church members said it's at least the second time the same steeple was hit, in the 97-year history of Saint John's Lutheran Church.

Church Secretary, Ralph Isley, stopped by to take a look at the repairs. He's the church's secretary, and said the bills will be covered by insurance.

“Like many churches in town my congregation is dwindling, but we’re hanging on, and hopefully we`ll get that thing restored and put back up,” said Isley.

“When the lightning hit the top of the tower it imploded the bricks around. The top piece stood together, but all the bricks underneath basically failed. When the top piece came off all the side pieces were starting to fall,” said Rob Stella of Stella Enterprises.

Workers said in order to make a full restoration, they`ll have to remove the entire section that was hit by lightning. That`s exactly what some churchgoers said they want to see.

“I think the structure has to be maintained in a proper perspective the way it was originally designed for, that`s for sure,” said Leonard Martin, a church member.

There's no word on how much the repairs will cost, or how long they'll take. City officials said they'll reopen the road once that entire section of steeple is removed.