Steeple Removed From Historic Church After Lightning Strike

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THROOP -- The steeple on an old church in Lackawanna County came down Tuesday after lightning struck it on Monday.  The bolt hit the steeple on the old St. John's Church in Throop.

Crews working for the Diocese of Scranton started the process around 11 a.m. It took them several hours and it was something to watch as a crane lifted the steeple off the century-old building.

Officials say it wasn't safe to keep it there after it was struck by lightning.

If you watched workers spend several hours taking down the steeple atop the old St. John's Church on Sanderson Street in Throop. You might wonder how it was put up back in 1905. That's why neighbor Bob Fuhr brought a lawn chair and binoculars to watch it come down.

"I see there's a beam going across the bottom of it, and it looks like they're going to go up there and take the top right off and bring it down."

Before the workers got to that part, they made three attempts to pull the old copper cross down, finally handing it Andy Hegedus who was baptized in the old church.

St. John's Church closed and the parish consolidated almost four years ago. The lightning that led the steeple to be torn down, Hegedus thinks, was maybe an act of God.

"Something inside of me tells me that this is giving us, as former parishioners, the final piece or final say, if you will, on the church, that maybe the building, it's time for it to serve another purpose. Maybe it's time for us to move on after what happened yesterday," Hegedus said.

St. John's Church is a landmark in Throop; it's just a little shorter now. People who were there when the storm came through on Monday say the lightning bolt could be seen all the way down Sanderson Street.

"I couldn't believe that lightning bolt. I wasn't home, I was up on the O'Neill Highway about a mile away and I said 'boy, that looked awfully close to the house,'" said Bob Robbins.

And it was awfully close to his house. Robbins lives across the street from St. John's.

Sanderson Street was closed for about 24 hours while the diocese came up with a plan then took the scorched steeple right off the top of the church. The cross was removed with care. It will stay in the parish's new church nearby.

"It'll mean a lot to the former parishioners of St. John's," Hegedus said.

That former parishioner said the lightning strike seemed like an act of God. It was also a coincidence that St. John's Church was struck by lightning on St. John's Day in the Roman Catholic calendar.

Officials say the rest of the building is secure, there are no plans to get rid of it. The church is up for sale.