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This undated photo shows the damage left when the ceiling collapsed May 9 in the sanctuary at Ellsworth United Methodist Church.

ELLSWORTH — Services at Ellsworth United Methodist Church have been relocated to the nearby American Legion after the sanctuary ceiling collapsed last week.

Shortly after members left choir practice at 8:30 p.m. May 9, neighbors heard a crash from inside the building at 101 Main St., said Roger Wilke, the church's board of trustees chairman.

No one was in the church, which has about 50 members, at the time of the ceiling collapse.

Built in 1890, the church sanctuary has three ceiling layers, said Wilke, including the original, a second lath-and-plaster ceiling and a third, suspended ceiling installed about 30 years ago.

Two layers of ceiling tiles, insulation, beams and lighting collapsed onto a portion of pews in the worship space.

Church officials are working with insurance and engineering officials to determine when repairs can be made. Wilke said the debris also will be tested for asbestos and lead paint.

The fellowship center and kitchen attached to the sanctuary also are closed until the debris is tested in case it contaminated other parts of the church.

“We’re just taking it one day at a time and we’ll see what transpires,” said Wilke.

Contact Julia Evelsizer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer


Public Safety Reporter

Public safety reporter for The Pantagraph.

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