Devastation was the word that came to mind as the Lindhorn brothers surveyed the damage at St. John’s Lutheran Church, west of Goshen.
The east side of the church’s roof was missing, broken in several pieces and tossed onto the lawn and into a nearby cornfield.
The tombstones in the church’s adjacent cemetery, some dating back to the late 1800s, had been snapped in half, likely victims of the roof and the straight-line winds that blasted through the area early Tuesday morning.
“It’s just amazing to think that for 160 years, this place has been here, no problem,” Jim Lindhorn said as he moved a pile of branches to a trailer Wednesday. “All that time, thousands of thunderstorms and this freak wind comes and it’s gone.”
The church, now empty, sits on the northeast corner of C.R. 15 and C.R. 32 in Harrison Township, a “sitting duck” above the open cornfields surrounding it, Lindhorn said.
For years, Lindhorn and his brother, Steve, have cared for the property, mowing the lawn at the cemetery and doing their best to keep vandals from destroying the historic structure.
In November 1994, St. John’s Lutheran Church was entered in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places.
But the question of who actually owns the property — and would be responsible for paying for the repairs — is a tricky one, Jim Lindhorn said.
There was an association tasked with taking care of the church and property, but it has since dissolved, leaving the Lindhorn family and other volunteers to step in, he said.
Most of the former association members are now deceased, buried in the cemetery outside the church, Lindhorn added.
Property assessment reports list St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery Association as the owner and Milton Lindhorn, Jim’s father, as the main contact.