Collapsing building forces out churches

Part of a vacant building between the Clanton First United Methodist San Juan Mission and the old Wadesonian Theater collapsed Friday morning.

Part of a vacant building between the Clanton First United Methodist San Juan Mission and the old Wadesonian Theater collapsed Friday morning.

A vacant building on Second Avenue North in downtown Clanton partially collapsed Friday morning, causing a mandatory evacuation of two adjoining properties.

Fellowship Church of God, which met in the old Wadesonian Theater, and the Clanton First United Methodist Church’s San Juan Mission were both moved from their homes after the collapse made apparent the structural integrity issues with the row of buildings.

The building that collapsed sat between the theater and the building that housed San Juan, which is located at the corner of Second Avenue and Eighth Street South. No one was injured in the collapse, which was believed to have taken place early Friday morning, but an “emergency condemnation” issued by the Clanton Fire Department left the Fellowship congregation without a home.

“We’ve got to do something, but we’re not going to stop preaching the word,” said Fellowship’s pastor, Bishop Warren Tyus. “We’re not going to let it stop our faith. We’ve got to put our faith in God. We’re not looking at it like he’s turned his back on us. Everybody has trying times.”

Electricity and gas to the buildings had to be cut off to avoid risking a fire, Clanton Fire Chief David Driver said.

“With those three buildings being connected, we had to close down all of them,” Driver said. “When that one fell in and we looked at the roof, it was determined that the roof was in bad shape also. We had to keep anyone from getting hurt.”

The property owners are responsible for the work necessary to make the building safe again, but Tyus expressed doubt the church would be able to do so.

“We’re a small congregation,” he said about the group of 11 people. “We’ve continued doing work to it, but we never could do enough.”

Fellowship purchased the property in 1990, and the building adjoining the theater had been vacant for many years. Tyus said there hadn’t been enough time to figure out where the church could meet this weekend because efforts all day had focused on getting out of the current location.

Hattie Tyus was among a small group removing belongings from the theater.

“I’m going to miss this place,” she said as she looked around in the dark building for anything that might have been overlooked.

Tyus urged community members to pray for the congregation and asked anyone who might be able to help with a meeting place to call him at 755-7492.

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