Lightning strikes Broadalbin church, pastor views it as divine lesson

A church steeple superimposed over a street scene.

The steeple of the Broadalbin Baptist Church was struck by lightning Tuesday. 

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BROADALBIN — Rev. Rob Phillips lives about 100 yards away from the historic Broadalbin Baptist Church. His dinner was interrupted early Tuesday evening. 

It sounded like a bomb exploded. The house shook.

A lightning bolt around 5:15 p.m. — the second time within the last three decades — blasted through the steeple’s easterly top and into the balcony area, blowing chunks out the Great Sacandaga Lake-area worship center. 

Some of the walls were singed and electrical units were fried, but the building didn’t catch fire. Nobody was injured. 

Phillips, who has been pastor for the last 12 years, has noticed church members in the past worried that lightning could strike again. 

“Well, here’s the thing that’s crazy: if you look on the radar map there’s one single lightning strike and that’s it — and it hit our steeple,” Phillips said.  

Lightning occurs when atmospheric electrons are attracted to ground-level protons. Warm, moist air is a key ingredient. Around the time of the strike, temperatures were hovering toward 38 degree F and the dew point average that day was 16.08. 

Located around one of the denser spots of the village, the bolt also blew out fuses in surrounding homes. “Nobody really saw it because it came down so quick and so high up in the steeple,” Phillips said. “We did have church members that live as far as Galway see the strike, though.”

The congregation lost “ten of thousands of dollars” in damage estimates, much of which hasn’t been fully assessed by insurance investigators. A team of roughly clergy members have spent between 10 to 12 hours cleaning up the damage. 

The 45-year-old pastor believes that God was trying to get congregants to “remember what’s important” while they prepare to host a church leader from war-torn Ukraine Saturday night and Sunday morning. 

“Here we are this weekend not going to have any of our projections, lighting, most of the stuff we normally use,” Phillips said. “It’s just going to be bare bones so I think it’s significant when we’re talking about what’s going on in Ukraine with the churches over there.” 

The Broadalbin Baptist Church was first built in 1798. It was replaced by a larger meeting house in 1835, which was destroyed by a fire 42 years later and rebuilt the next year.  

Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3749 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TylerAMcNeil





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