Church members left feeling loss, faith after wall collapse in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Investigators are looking into the cause of a wall collapse at a Kansas City church on Thursday that sent 44 children and their Bible school leaders running for their lives.

Everyone was able to get out safely when the east side of the Apostolic Assembly Church near the intersection of Benton Boulevard and Independence Avenue gave way about 10:35 a.m.

People in the building described hearing a loud boom that sounded like an explosion.

“It was just like a crushing sound, and when I looked back, I just saw everything started to collapse,” said Perla Simentas.

Surveillance video from across the street shows the children racing to safety.

Vasti Sanchez was inside the building.

“I grabbed my sister. She has a disability, and God just gave me the strength. I didn’t feel anything when I carried her,” she said.

The sanctuary was hit the hardest. The children had been in there hours earlier for choir practice.

“At least for me, it is the greatest miracle I have seen,” said Simentas.

The building operated as a movie theater for years. It’s been home to a church since the early 1970s. City officials said even buildings as old as the church are not randomly inspected for structural problems. City records had shown no major problems over the years.

“We cry because it is our church,” said the Rev. Hermino C. Leal. “God is with us.”

Those who got out are feeling loss, but also a renewed sense of the power of prayer.

“It hurts me to see this, but we know great things are to come,” said Simentas.

Nearly 200 people attend the church and they’re trying to find a place to gather in time for Sunday.

The church is insured and its leaders spent the evening meeting with adjustors to assess the vast amount of damage. The city will have the final say on whether the building will be torn down. (This story was posted at www.kmbc.com.)

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