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Faribault's River Church struck by lightning

Lightning strike at southern Minnesota church caught on camera
Lightning strike at southern Minnesota church caught on camera 02:10

FARIBAULT, Minn. — Heavy rain and high winds swept through the state Tuesday night. In downtown Faribault, a big lightning bolt hit The River Church. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Josh Westphal was in his driveway when he was startled by the loud explosion-like sound he heard, saw and felt.

He says he'll always remember the moment he saw lightning strike the top of the church, just half a block from his home.

"It shook the house, the truck I was in, and everything it was pretty big," Westphal said.

It also sent his son on the front porch jumping, running and racing to catch his breath.

But inside the church, it was an exhilarating yet terrifying moment for two people.

"It was an experience I've never had before," said Senior Pastor Tony Crombie.

He says he saw the flash of lightning through the church windows before hearing it.  

Joseph Westphal and Joseph Westphal Jr.

"It sounded like a crack of a whip and wood exploding and a bomb went off all at the same time," Crombie said.

The pastor believes the only reason this church is still standing is because of the lightning rod.

"I was convinced there was some kind of fire or damage or something, but the lightning rod did its job," he said.

In fact, Crombie says he could smell smoke and the cameras went out, but it was two braided copper cables that saved the more than 100-year-old church.

"Thank you, Lord, for lightning rods and just his favor," Crombie said. "Just the fact that there wasn't a fire or some kind of damage, we serve a great and merciful God."

Crombie says they are working on getting the church back on the grid by fixing electrical problems, but he's grateful he's OK and the church is standing.

After seeing the video captured on Westphal's camera, Crombie decided to make light of the situation with a witty FaceBook post promising a powerful Sunday service.

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