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FORT WORTH An act of God struck one of the oldest churches in North Texas Friday night.

A lightning bolt hit Fort Worth's Allen Chapel AME Church on Friday night, just hours before its anniversary celebration.

On Sunday, the congregation was still celebrating in spite of the damage to their historic church.

Allen Chapel members were on their feet, hymnals in hand, determined to find the good in that act of God.

In spite of it all, this is the day the Lord has made, declared Rev. Sheryl Matlock.

On Sunday, the church celebrated 141 years of history but in a different building.

On Friday night, their original sanctuary took a direct hit from lightning. Bricks were blown out from the south bell tower, littering the street below.

The first rain in weeks seeped through the ceiling tiles and soaked cushions on the pews.

But after all of that, the storm just seemed to bring out the best in the church members.

I know it's fixable, said Vanessa Johnson. With God, everything is possible, so I know this is fixable.

The church is working with structural engineers and insurance adjusters to assess the damage and determine whether the sanctuary is safe.

But the church's 141 years of history might make it difficult to return home soon. Because we're a historic church, it's going to take some time, explained church member Luther Perry. Everything has to be put back exactly like it was ... in order to maintain the historical status.

Baker Chapel will provide a temporary sanctuary as long as needed.

We cannot let anything stop us from the work of God, church member Ruby Johnson said.

While Allen Chapel might have a hole in its roof, Sunday's celebration proved that its foundation is still very strong.

The congregation tells us it might take several months to get back into their church.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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