Weather-related closings

Lightning strike destroys historic Mississippi church

ASHLAND, Miss. — A Mississippi church that has been around for nearly 200 years was destroyed by flames after it was hit by lightning Thursday night.

Several fire department agencies tried to save it, but Pleasant Hill Baptist church members only have a fellowship hall left.

"Somebody called me about 11 o’clock last night said it was burning," church trustee Randy Samples said. "Nothing left, pews and everything gone."

On Thursday night members showed up to see flames dancing around and creeping toward the cross at the top of the church. Once sunlight settled on the sight, there wasn't much left to see.

The massive cross had to be taken down because firefighters feared as the church crumbled away, it might come down and hurt someone.

Pastor Herbert Luther said the building was a total loss.

Samples said he had six decades of his memories resting beneath the scattered bricks, as flames still flickered in the ash and debris Friday.

Lightning struck the nearly 200-year-old Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Benton County, Mississippi om Thursday night, burning most of it to the ground. (Ian Ripple)

Although the building is gone, worship will go on at the fellowship building next door this Sunday.

"It won't stop anything," Samples said. "Change it, but it won’t stop."

After all, he says it's not about where you are — it’s about the praising and worshiping wherever you are put.

"It's not about the church. It is the people," he said. "It will come back."

He has faith that the church will rebuild.

Right now the church is waiting to hear back from the fire marshal and the insurance adjuster, but people are already making donations to the church.

Lightning struck the nearly 200-year-old Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Benton County, Mississippi om Thursday night, burning most of it to the ground. (Ian Ripple)