DECATUR, Tenn. — The steeple was the first part of the church to collapse.
As Grace Independent Baptist Church near Decatur, Tenn., burned to the ground Monday night, apparently from a lightning strike, longtime member Carolyn Mullins watched it all from inside her van in the parking lot.
"All I could do was sit there and say, 'Praise God,'" Mullins said. "You're supposed to praise him in the storm."
Several days after the fire, the congregation of the little Meigs County church is heartbroken. Pastor Joe Andrew said he had never seen so much hurt on people's faces as he did in the crowd that watched the church burn. People stood in the heavy rain while thunder cracked in the night sky.