Wind fells church steeple

GREENFIELD — It wasn’t quite the sight the Rev. Larry Hof was expecting when he pulled up to the church Sunday morning.

Rather than standing tall on top of the building as it should have been, the steeple at Faith Baptist in Greenfield had toppled over.

The 18-foot-tall steeple jutted off the building at an angle. High winds late Saturday and early Sunday were the likely culprit for the damage.

And Hof couldn’t help but laugh.

“God controls the wind, so I have to think he did this for a reason,” Hof said. “No one’s upset; it is what it is.”

Early Sunday, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning in Hancock County and several others in central Indiana.

Hof heard the wind and the rain. It knocked out the power for a short time, but he never thought the storm was bad enough to cause such damage to the church.

“It must have been a pretty good gust,” Hof said.

Winds across the area reached speeds of 60 to 70 mph, said Meagan Bird, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Parts of the same storm system, which stretched into Iowa and South Dakota, reportedly saw winds of more than 100 mph.

Still, no major damage in Indiana was reported, Bird said; the mishap at Faith Baptist seems to be an isolated incident.

Granted, it wasn’t the first time the congregation at Faith Baptist had trouble with the steeple, Hof said.

In 2011, about a year after moving into the building along County Road 600N, just north of Maxwell, church leaders noticed the steeple wobbled in heavy wind.

It never tipped as severely as it did this week, Hof said, and the congregation spent about $8,000 to repair and stabilize it.

Repairing the steeple is not an option this time around; insurance adjusters and contractors have removed the spire.

Church leaders are discussing what to do next. There is slight damage to the roof of the church but nothing warranting the building’s closure. Services were conducted Sunday morning after the damage was discovered and will be held there as repairs are made, Hof said.

Kaycee Ball has no trouble believing the congregation will find a way to move forward. She’s been a member of Faith Baptist for more than 20 years and has seen the community there come together for special projects like this. They’ll do it again, she said.

“We just laughed it off,” Ball said, of the moment she arrived at church Sunday to find the steeple fallen over. “Not because we didn’t think it was a big deal, but because we knew it would be fixed.”

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or