Church Ceiling Collapses During Service; All Escape Injury

Churchgoers and members of a church choir narrowly escaped injury Sunday when the ceiling of a historic Arlington church collapsed during services.

The ceiling cracked and then fell just above the choir while the pastor of Lomax African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was praying — praying, in fact, about angels.

“That goes to show you, that the angels were spreading their wings so that nobody got hurt,” Greg Livingston, a member of the congregation, said. “Nobody got hurt. And everyone got out.”

Choir members rushed out of the way, as did the congregation and celebrants, before debris crashed down into the choir loft. “I heard move, move, and then the ceiling came down,” another congregant said.

The church, on 24th Road South in Arlington, dates to 1922; it is one of Arlington’s oldest continuing black churches, according to the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

The timing is tough for the church, with Christmas services hours away. The church is useable as long as the members and staff avoid the pulpit, firefighters said.

Despite the challenge, church members are clinging to the fact that everyone escaped. “God’s still looking out for us,” said Stan Kendall, a member of the church's board of trustees.

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