Two years after devastating derecho storm, local church finally gets new steeple

Holy Redeemer Church in Kensington, Md. got a new steeple Monday, two years after the derecho storm that knocked it down. (Photo: Kendis Gibson/WJLA)

KENSINGTON, Md. (WJLA) - Many spiritual people believe things always happen for a reason.

That's why the parish at the Holy Redeemer Church tried to stay positive when its iconic, 50-year-old steeple was destroyed during the derecho storm two years ago.

"Everyone was like, 'Oh, when will the new one go up?' But you can't just go to Wal-Mart and get a new one," said Father Mark Hughes. "It's a long process."

But with renewed faith, the Holy Redeemer community finally welcomed its newest fixture Monday.

"What an exciting day," said Debbie Van Landingham. "And the fact that it falls on the first day of school is even more exciting."

Memories still linger from the frightening storm two years ago that knocked the former steeple over.

"That storm - it was scary," one young church-goer recalled.

"It completely fell over," said senior project manager Dan Boyland, who worked on getting the new steeple installed. "There were significant holes in the roof of the church."

It's not every day that one can see a church steeple lifted toward the Heavens. A crowd of parishioners gathered after mass Monday to witness the rare spectacle as a crane moved in to raise the new steeple - which was quite expensive, indeed.

"This parish is very generous," said Boyland, of all the members who donated to the fund for the new steeple. "It cost about $500,000. Insurance covered much of the damage, but [raising money for the new steeple] took quite a long time."

Before being hoisted up onto the church's 90-foot base, the new steeple laid in the parking lot of the church. With the cross, it stands 42 feet tall and weighs about 4,000 pounds.

There is copper on the outside and aluminum on the inside, which the project managers say will hopefully be able to withstand any significant storms in the future.

But with some divine intervention, the people of Holy Redeemer Church hope they'll never have to experience that type of storm again.