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Seven men escape roof collapse at Wall Highway Church without injurycomment (0)

July 29, 2010

By Kristen Padilla

Members of Wall Highway Baptist Church, Madison, are still thanking God that no one was injured when the roof of their Christian Life Center (CLC), built in 1988, collapsed while seven men were playing basketball in its gym July 20.

“About five minutes after 7 (p.m.), we heard six or seven pops that sounded like it was coming from the ductwork,” said Gregg Frost, leader of the Madison Baptist Association church’s men’s basketball outreach ministry, Hoop It Up for Him. “We looked around and saw nothing. About 40 seconds later, we heard a series of pops. … The walls in the church started to bow a bit, and the roof started coming in, the very first of it coming down quickly.” It was at this point they witnessed God’s protection, Frost said.

“It was like God just reached down His hand and let us get to safety,” he said. “The six guys got out through the exit doors. I knew when I saw it fall that I didn’t have time to get out like they did. I just went to a corner and watched. 

“It was like God held it up until we were safely out of the way and then He gently lowered it to the floor. It wasn’t a big crash,” Frost continued. “I don’t know why but I didn’t panic at all. It was like God said, ‘You’re going to be OK. Just go ahead and watch.’”

The seconds that followed seemed to go by slowly for Frost, but once the damage was done, firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians arrived within minutes. It also didn’t take long for church staff and members to arrive.

By the end of the evening, around 40 people circled in the sanctuary’s foyer for a prayer of thanksgiving.

Phillip Carithers, Wall Highway Baptist’s associate pastor and minister of education, said God’s protection was seen not only in the moment with the seven men but also in the timing of the incident.

Just four days earlier, the church had hosted approximately 400 people — parents and children who had participated in the Winshape camp held that week — for a meal and final celebration in the area of the CLC where the roof fell in.

“We thank God that (the roof did not come down that night),” Carithers said.

“We really praised God that no one was hurt. If it had to happen, this was a good time (for it) to happen.”

He said Wall Highway has seen an outpouring of love from the Baptist community — area churches, the association and the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) — since the incident.

“We’ve had a lot of churches come by and pray for us,” Carithers said. “It’s been a great time of everyone coming together and praying for us.”

The SBOM offered two mobile chapels in which to host adult Sunday School classes, which met in the CLC. Carithers said the church hopes to have those by early September.

The Mother’s Day Out program, Awana children’s ministry and Upward basketball program lost their meeting space, too.

But these ministries will continue because the roof collapse will not stop the work of the church, Carithers said.

“This is just a building, and we’ll continue on doing ministry,” he said.

“We’re going to readjust and the prayers of the people are going to help. In all things, we might see this as bad but God will use it for good.”

Carithers noted the cause of the collapse is unknown and there were no visible signs of termites or water damage.

An investigation is currently under way, and Wall Highway is working with its insurance company to find out the next steps to take.

At this time, Carithers asked for prayer.

“We need prayer — prayer that the people won’t get discouraged and prayer for unity in our body that we may continue to serve God and do His mission.”

To be placed on the church’s e-mail update list, e-mail contact information to info@wallhighway.com.

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