Churches Face Obstacles During Record-Breaking Heatwave

Churches across the U.S. tried to beat the heat this past weekend, although some were forced to cancel events and others found alternative ways of keeping cool as they faced record-breaking temperatures.

In Missouri, a combination of the heat and dry weather forced Calvary Bible Church in Nixa to postpone its annual "Freedom Celebration." The event was supposed to include a fireworks display, but after the Nixa Fire Protection District issued a burn ban on June 27, the church decided to move it to a later date.

Calvary Bible's pastor, Lance Ogden, told The Christian Post on Monday that the event would have brought approximately 450 people to the church, which has an average Sunday attendance of 150 people. For several years the city hasn't put on a fireworks display of its own, and the Freedom Celebration has grown bigger as a result.

"It's one of our biggest events that we do," he said.

In addition to fireworks, the annual event also includes live music and free food on the church's 10-acre property. Although it is technically located in an area outside of the burn ban zone, church officials didn't want to take the risk of accidentally setting a fire. Last night the church's board voted to reschedule the event for Labor Day weekend in September.

Although fireworks are a staple of Independence Day, Ogden says families can still enjoy the holiday without them.

"Just because you can't shoot fireworks doesn't mean that families can't get together and have cookouts and just enjoy family time. So the focus, actually, may be better in the sense that it's the focus ... on family instead of fireworks," he said.

In Birmingham, Ala., Katherwood Baptist Church had their own heat-related troubles on Sunday after thieves stole a total of five air-conditioning units that once cooled off the church's building, CBS 42 reports. Initially the thieves took only two units, leaving nothing but the metal casing that once surrounded them behind, but they returned and stole the remaining three units just one night later.

As a result, the congregation was forced to meet in the church's annex building, which is still cooled by an air-conditioner, instead of the building's main chapel on Sunday.

"Obviously I want to see them pay for what they did, but I want them to know that we love them," the church's pastor, Dean Pesnell, told CBS 42. "We don't have any ill will toward them or any hatred toward them."

In St. Louis, where temperatures rose to 105 degrees and broke an 81-year-old record on Saturday, an annual street festival put on by Unfailing Love Christian Church went on as planned despite the heat, reports.

Those in attendance clapped along to gospel music as performed by the church's choir, drummer and organist. Children in attendance cooled themselves off in a nearby sprinkler that was turned on, and they also had a barbecue.

"We aren't worried about the heat," Cherelle Marshall, one of the church's members, told the website. "We're serving the Lord. It's about him."

The National Weather Service says excessive heat warnings and advisories will continue through the beginning of this week, impacting several states across the Midwest and Southeast. A weak cold front that is slowly moving across the eastern U.S. is expected to provide some relief, but will likely cause severe weather as well.