“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
~ James 1:17
All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.
When the West Side Baptist Church in Beatrice, Nebraska, was demolished by an explosion on Wednesday, March 1, 1950, fifteen people were supposed to be there. But miraculously the church was empty and no one was injured.
Choir practice at the church always began punctually at 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday evenings. Choir members were usually prompt and ready to sing by 7:25 p.m. But at 7:25 p.m., when the explosion occurred, nobody was there.
The blast collapsed the church, caused power outages which forced a nearby radio station off the air, shattered windows in surrounding homes and could be heard around the town.
Miraculously not one of the people who should have been present had yet arrived when the building collapsed. Every one of the choir’s fifteen members escaped injury, saved by an astonishing fortuitious “coincidence”. For different apparent reasons, all were late for practice that night.
Though amazing, this story actually did happen. See e.g. Snopes. Also see Beatrice Daily Sun article commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the explosion entitled: “Church explosion 60 years ago not forgotten – Remember the miracle”
Embedded below is an excellent and accurate video portrayal of the story. Watch it after reading the story.
The following article telling the story originally appeared in the March 27, 1950 issue of Life Magazine, was reprinted in the June 1950 issue of Reader’s Digest, and in the 1951 30th Anniversary Reader’s Digest Reader. And it was republished in 1991 by Time-Life Books in World of Luck: Library of Curious and Unusual Facts.
WHY THE CHOIR WAS LATE by George H. Edeal
It happened on the evening of March 1 in the town of Beatrice, Nebraska. In the afternoon the Reverend Walter Klempel had gone to the West Side Baptist Church to get things ready for choir practice. He lit the furnace – most of the singers were in the habit of arriving around 7:15, and it was chilly in the church – and went home to dinner. But at 7:10, when it was time for him to go back to the church with his wife and daughter, Marilyn Ruth, it turned out that Marilyn Ruth’s dress was soiled, so Mrs. Klempel ironed another. Thus they were still at home when it happened.
Ladona Vandegrift, a high school sophomore, was having trouble with a geometry problem. She knew practice began promptly and always came early. But she stayed to finish the problem.
Royena Estes was ready, but the car would not start. So she and her sister, Sadie, called Ladona Vandegrift, and asked her to pick them up. But Ladona was the girl with the geometry problem, and the Estes sisters had to wait.
Mrs. Leonard Schuster would ordinarily have arrived at 7:20 with her small daughter, Susan. But on this particular evening she had to go to her mother’s house to help her get ready for a missionary meeting.
Herbert Kipf, lathe operator, would have been ahead of time but had put off an important letter. “I can’t think why,” he said. He lingered over it and was late.
It was a cold evening. Stenographer Joyce Black, feeling “just plain lazy,” stayed in her warm house until the last possible moment. She was almost ready to leave.
Because his wife was away, machinist Harvey Ahl was taking care of his two boys. He was going to take them to practice with him, but somehow he got wound up talking. When he looked at his watch, he saw he was already late.
Marilyn Paul, the pianist, had planned to arrive half an hour early. However, she fell asleep after dinner, and when her mother awakened her at 7:15 she had time only to tidy up and start out.
Mrs. F.E. Paul, choir director, and mother of the pianist, was late simply because her daughter was. She had tried unsuccessfully to awaken the girl earlier.
High school girls Lucille Jones and Dorothy Wood are neighbors and customarily go to practice together. Lucille was listening to a 7-to-7:30 radio program and broke her habit of promptness because she wanted to hear the end. Dorothy waited for her.
At 7:25, with a roar heard in almost every corner of Beatrice, the West Side Baptist Church blew up. The walls fell outward, the heavy wooden roof crashed straight down like the weight in a deadfall. But, because of such matters as a soiled dress, a cat nap, an unfinished letter, a geometry problem and a stalled car, all of the members of the choir were late – something which had never happened before.
Firemen thought the explosion had been caused by natural gas, which may have leaked into the church from a broken pipe outside and been ignited by the fire in the furnace. The Beatrice choir members had no particular theory about the fire’s cause, but each of them began to reflect on the heretofore inconsequential details of his life, wondering at exactly what point it is that one can say, “This is an act of God.”
Unsolved Mysteries – Lucky Choir
Unsovled Mysteries-Lucky Choir by MichRRConductor
After reading the story and watching the video, consider how such an amazing synchronistic event might have happened.
Though various choir members gave various explanations for being late for choir practice that night, was there an underlying common Cause for all of them fortuitously missing death or injury in the church explosion?
Were all of the choir members subliminally guided from a deep level of higher consciousness – a level at which everyone and everything is connected?
We they unconsciously entrained with and guided by what Einstein calls “Universal Intelligence”?
Was it predestined that all of them would live unharmed; that none would die?
We can only speculate on answers to these questions, or on other possible explanations. But whatever our views, such marvels and blessings can infuse us with awe and gratitude for our miraculous life in this wondrous world
and with abiding faith in the eternal mystery of Divine Love –
And so may it be!