The St. Mary Catholic Church in a German Village which is 148-years-old, is closed indefinitely due to damage caused by a summer lightning striking.
The parish is home to more than 500 families, holding weekend masses in the gymnasium at the St. Mary School. The officials determine what to repair in the German-Gothic structure. It has been reported that daily masses are being held at the Burkley Center.
A pastor, Rev. Kevin Lutz said, the decision to close the church was made because of concerns for the building’s structural integrity, along with moving the location of worship services, the church’s iconic, cross-topped bell tower has been silenced.
Lutz, in a newsletter distributed to parishioners, writes that the church faces a great challenge.
“Anything that can be built can be fixed,” he writes.
“I’m inspired by the words of scripture, ‘The greater glory of the temple will be greater than the former.’”
Posted in St. Mary website, damages includes one of the church’s seven or eight trusses that support the roof, ceiling and rest upon the church’s brick walls. Damaged truss near front of the church, slipped down to 4 inches.
The strike knocked out the organ’s system.
The ceiling was cracked, plaster fell above the organ, the church’s north wall separated from a choir loft and the attic area above the altar was damaged. A crease was visible on the outer wall of the church’s north side.
George Jones, spokesman for the Diocese of Columbus, said in a statement, “While the structural engineers are still completing their review, it is believed possible that the lightning strike caused vibration throughout the structure that worsened the deterioration.”
Lutz was in the building at the time of the strike, and believes that it is likely the lightning hit the 197-foot-high bell tower which was built in 1893.
“It shook it violently,” Lutz said. “It was a very loud bang, and it caused the bells to ring.”
The church was renovated in 1987, and its tower restored in 1994.