'Everybody was scared': Chaos unfolds at Minooka church as tornado tears through sacred space

Liz Nagy Image
Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Chaos unfolds at suburban church as tornado tears through sacred space
Chaos broke out at Apostolic Church International as a Minooka tornado tore through the sacred space. Now, they're picking up after the storm damage.

MINOOKA, Ill. (WLS) -- Pieces of the Apostolic Church International lay piled in sections.

Portions of the roof were ripped off, but it's the shape of a broken heart shattered by two tornadoes that hit Minooka on Friday night and exposed the sanctuary to the sudden brutality of nature.

"I'm U.S. Air Force reserve. I've seen scary things. I've shot guns before, but I haven't seen anything like this," said Apostolic Church International Minooka Choir Director Leslie Clottey.

It was youth gospel Karaoke night on Friday, and nearly two dozen teens and adults were worshipping enthusiastically.

"We were so involved in having fun, we didn't hear any sound, like something was coming," said Pastor Nicholas Ankamah.

That's when the National Weather Service said the force of an EF-1 tornado tore through the window of the sacred space.

"All I did was scream 'Everybody down!' I screamed and they were all down. I think some were tripping over others. It was scary, in the moment," Clottey said.

Disoriented and terrified, teenagers scrambled downstairs to safety. They had no idea what they were actually running from.

"Everyone is running, climbing all over each other, clambering to get down to the basement. Everybody was scared," said youth group member Roselyn Adjamong.

High-powered winds were enough to shatter the exterior glass, but the karaoke projection screen stunted the shrapnel.

"I can say, maybe an angel of God was standing there, just to hold the force that's what prevented the flying glass from hitting anybody," Ankamah said.

And, when the screen came up, the interior stained glass protection had fallen, with its image still perfectly intact.

This was one of six tornadoes that the NWS said touched down in the Chicago area on Friday night.

The pastor just purchased the building seven months ago. Now, they wait for contractors and insurance to fix the physical damage that somehow spared everyone inside.