Ceiling collapses at 150-year-old church in St. Charles

The ceiling collapse at Immanuel Lutheran Church (Credit: Immanuel Lutheran Church - St. Charles, Missouri / Facebook)

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- Debbie Boyer has been a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church for pretty much her entire life.

I was baptized and confirmed there. I was married there, my siblings were married there. My mother and brother were buried there,” she said.

Early Tuesday morning, part of the sanctuary ceiling collapsed. The church reports the collapse damaged pews, the grand piano, the pipe organ and more. Nearby neighbors said they felt a rumble when the ceiling came down.

No one was inside when the collapse happened, but church members like Boyer were devastated.

“I was heartbroken,” she said. “So many memories.”

The church has stood for 150 years and has been a historical cornerstone of the community.

Now, it’s filled with debris and damage.

“It's a heartbreaking experience for everybody who comes in and sees it for the first time,” said Reverend Scott Schmieding.

Schmieding is the senior pastor and says the ceiling came down about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, which all things considered, was lucky.

“We've had hundreds of people in here for graduation, confirmation, worship and that averted a disaster by the timing of the event,” Schmieding said.

The pastor says it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair.

The church is one of the oldest in St. Charles County. The building was constructed over a nine-month period after the Civil War. It was dedicated in the fall of 1867.

Given the building’s age, Schmieding is concerned about the rest of the church structure.

“Right now I'm telling people I would not sit on the right-hand side of the sanctuary,” he said. “Probably going to have to take down everything and re-do and rebuild the entire interior of the sanctuary.”

The church is still waiting on official estimates from contractors on the cost of repairs, but Pastor Schmieding says they hope to have services back in the sanctuary by Christmas.

The church posted on its Facebook page that insurance adjusters would be out to survey the damage and reconstruction would happen within the next months.

If you'd like to help the church in the reconstruction process, CLICK HERE.

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