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Last Updated: Friday, 4 July, 2003, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Lightning hits preacher after call to God
Lightning strike
The service electrified the congregation
A congregation in the United States was left stunned when lightning struck a church moments after a visiting preacher asked God for a sign.

Church members in the town of Forest in the state of Ohio said the preacher had been emphasising the importance of penance when, in the course of his prayers, he called on the heavens above.

The lightning struck the steeple, then hit the preacher himself when it travelled through electrical wiring to his microphone.

Local authorities said he was not injured.

"It was awesome, just awesome," said church member Ronnie Cheney, who was among the congregation when the strike hit, told the Findlay Courier newspaper.

"You could hear the storm building outside... he just kept asking God what else he needed to say.

"He was asking for a sign and he got one."

Afterwards services resumed, however churchgoers realised after 20 minutes that the building was on fire and evacuated.

"It was kind of interesting hearing the preacher talk about what had happened," Forest Fire Chief Doug Hawkin admitted.

The fire was put out after three hours, but damage to the church is estimated at around $20,000.

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