Corona Baptist Church sees God at work after roof collapses

By Irene A. Harkleroad | Nov 20, 2023

The roof of the auditorium at Corona Baptist Church in Chandler collapsed on Saturday, Oct. 28.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, the roof of Corona Baptist Church in Chandler collapsed, raining down debris and crushing pews.

Thankfully, no one was in the building.

Corona is also thankful for the support of the Southern Baptist family during this time, said Pastor Mike Molina.

The Sunday before the roof collapse, “we knew something was wrong when we saw large cracks in the drywall,” he said. “We were concerned that vibrations from our music could potentially cause even greater problems.”

Instead of having service in the sanctuary that day, Molina decided to relocate to their fellowship hall in a separate building on the property. Everything was removed from the building that day except a grand piano.

Six days later, the roof collapsed.

The site was deemed unsafe and red-tagged by inspectors, prompting the congregation to meet on Sundays in the church parking lot. They gathered there for four weeks.

Normally, Corona Baptist Church has two services, one in Spanish and one in English. Those were combined for one bilingual service that met at 10 a.m.

“Everyone has risen to the occasion,” Molina said. “They set up and take down chairs, prepare coffee and donuts and move the music equipment. It’s a big job.”

Unexpected guests attended some of the outdoor services.

Mark Ellington, lead pastor of College View Baptist Church in Mesa — seven miles from Corona — graciously allowed the congregation to begin services on their campus Nov. 19. Corona resumed their 9:20 a.m. Spanish service and 10:40 a.m. English service.

Corona Baptist Church worships in the parking lot following the collapse of the auditorium roof on Saturday, Oct. 28.

On that Sunday, David Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists, presented a $26,000 check to Corona from Arizona Southern Baptists’ Helping Churches in Crisis Fund to help with unexpected expenses.

“The Arizona Mission Network is glad to be able to help one of our sister churches in a time of crisis,” Johnson said. “We are a family of churches, so when one of us suffers, we all feel it and lift them up in prayer. We are thankful for College View Church opening their doors to Corona Church and proud of how they are walking through this with the leadership of Pastor Mike Molina.”

Building inspections have been completed, and Molina is waiting for a decision from the insurance company. The church is praying for the opportunity to rebuild.

“We are extremely grateful for all the people in the SBC who have been calling to offer help and say they are praying for the church,” Molina said. “It’s comforting to know the body is aware and cares.”

Members and leadership are grateful they were able to be proactive and vacate the building when they did. “Otherwise, we may have lost some brothers and sisters in that collapse,” Molina said.

There is a sense of excitement in the congregation. Molina likens it to the early church. When it was left alone, it became complacent. But whenever it suffered persecution, it rose to the occasion and began to grow.

“God could be doing something that we can’t even fathom,” Molina said. “We’ve got to capitalize on that excitement for the kingdom of God.”

Irene A. Harkleroad, a freelance writer living in Carefree, is a member of Black Mountain Baptist Church, Cave Creek.

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