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Church roof collapses hour after service ends

The roof of Green Street Baptist Church collapsed Wednesday around 8:30 p.m. No one was injured.

The roof of Green Street Baptist Church collapsed Wednesday around 8:30 p.m. No one was injured. The church has approximately 50 members.

The roof of Green Street Baptist Church collapsed Wednesday less than an hour after evening worship services concluded.

The Selma Fire Department responded to a call about the church, located at the intersection of Green Street and Griffin Avenue, at 8:42 p.m. No one was injured in the collapse.

“We have no idea what the cause of it is,” said Selma Fire Chief Toney Stephens. “All we did was make sure there were no victims trapped inside, and we secured the area.”

Church members are still trying to decide their next steps.

Church members are still trying to decide their next steps.

The church had just finished its Wednesday Bible study, according to pastor Willie Harris.

Church members left the building about 7:50 p.m. and Harris received a call from Christopher Minter, who witnessed the collapse, around 8:30 p.m.

“There was a lot of smoke in the air like there was a fire,” Minter said. “And upon me getting to the stop sign, the church just caved in. It had bricks and stuff everywhere and all over the street.”

Harris said the loss of the historic building has been difficult to church members for accept. About 50 people worship at the church.

“One of them even shed tears and cried just to look at the sight. It’s pretty sad for some of them, and it’s disheartening,” Harris said.

In the 1960s, the church helped feed voting rights activists and marchers, according to Harris.

The congregation is still trying to decide what to do next and whether to try and save the building.

“The majority of the membership was in favor of our restoration at one point,” Harris said. “This church is one of the churches that supported the civil rights movement. So we want to preserve it as much as we can.”

Right now the congregation hasn’t made a final decision of whether to restore, rebuild or relocate. The church was not insured, according to Harris.

Harris believes outdated infrastructure and deterioration of the more than 90-year-old building caused the roof to cave in.

Members have been meeting in the Fellowship Hall adjacent to the main sanctuary for about 10 years because of structural issues potentially caused from a tornado 15 to 20 years ago, according to Harris, even though the initial damage from the tornado had been repaired.

According to “Historic Churches of Selma: Prior to 1925” brochure on selmaalabama.com, the building was erected and dedicated in June 1922.

Harris said the church is looking for a new place to temporarily hold worship services and welcomes any support from the community.