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Services continue at downtown St. Louis church damaged in storm

High winds early Saturday morning blew the steeple off Centenary United Methodist Church in downtown St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — The downtown St. Louis skyline looks a bit different this weekend.

It's not as if the Gateway Arch is missing, but if you're familiar with Centenary United Methodist Church near North 17th and Pine streets, you might notice something is missing from the cityscape.

"Drive down the street, and it's blank where there used to be a tall steeple," said church member Carolyn Green.

High winds early Saturday morning blew the church steeple off the building. The next day, work to rebuild it continued outside the church.

"The rest of this structure that you can see is very solid. There's a little bit of stone falling off the top corner, but the steeple, the steep part, will be a loss," said Scott Troeckler of Kirberg Roofing.

Work continued inside the church, too, where the damaged copper steeple is being stored.

Church caretaker Gregory Allen was going about his regular routine, which included mopping and keeping the kitchen operating. And Pastor Kathleen Wilder addressed her congregation in person and on Facebook Live.

"As you know the storm blew our steeple away," said Wilder, who also quoted scripture while a piano accompanied her.

"Psalms 46," said Wilder. "God is our refuge and our strength. A very present help in trouble."

Events like these provide pastors with an opportunity to make their sermons even more relevant than usual.

"God is in the midst of this city," said Wilder. "This city shall not be moved, and our church will not be moved."

Church member Carolyn Green was moved by the sight of the steeple on the floor of the church vestibule She knocked on it; it made a hollow, metallic sound.

"That took some kind of wind to smash this in," said Green, who's also an architect. We're going to miss it, and it'll take a while to rebuild."

Roofing crews said there are a few larger beams and other debris that needs to be removed before tarps are put over the damaged sections of the church to protect them from weather.

The church is accepting donations for repair work.