One Winnipeg church's live stream started a couple of hours late this past Sunday because their pastors were stuck inside an elevator in the church building.
"Just shy of four inches of being level with the second floor, where the door would open automatically, the elevator just died."
Pastors Marty and Rose McLean of Encounter Life Ministries were excited to be back in their church building for the first time in 10 months. "We had been going live off and on from various locations, from home," Marty says. Things started going downhill pretty quickly, though.
"Our first inkling that something was about to go down was when our keyboard player was bringing in his keyboard and he slipped outside the stairs." Thankfully, the keyboard player wasn't injured, and Marty continued to bring in his gear.
Because they had a lot of equipment to bring into the sanctuary after broadcasting from home for almost a year, Rose suggested they load it into the wheelchair lift to save Marty some work. Marty's first reaction was actually to avoid the elevator. "I thought, 'I don't want to use that old 1960s elevator.' I try to avoid using it at all costs but then I thought, 'Why not?'"
The McLeans packed the elevator with all their equipment and then squeezed into it, closed the door behind them, and pushed the button.
"Just shy of four inches of being level with the second floor, where the door would open automatically, the elevator just died. Our worst fear," Marty laughs. He says his wife's eyes grew larger as if to say "This is not happening!"
They hoped that their keyboard player would be able to open the door from the outside, but a safety mechanism prevents the door from opening if the elevator isn't level with the floor. They even tried removing the hinges from the door but nothing would set them free.
They were left with no choice but to call the fire department. "We hear the sirens going on, they're coming up the stairs, there's about 10 of them there. Nobody could get us out of there, they tried everything." Unfortunately for Marty and Rose, it was nothing like TV shows where firefighters rescue people by rappelling down the elevator shaft. In fact, the firefighters ended up leaving the church because they got another call; but, they called an elevator company to come and assist.
Marty and Rose documented their experience, going on Facebook Live a few times, and sending out pictures. They did their best to keep the experience as positive as possible, even considering doing church from inside the elevator. "I told Rose, I'll grab the guitar and you start singing." Thankfully, it didn't have to come to that.
Within seconds of working on the elevator, the technician produced a master key and was able to let the McLeans out after nearly two hours stuck inside.
There's plenty of good to come out of the experience, too, including free material for the preacher to work off of. "I was thinking maybe there are a couple of sermons here I can come up with," Marty says, and he spent most of Monday morning reflecting on the experience.
Marty says he won't be using the elevator anytime soon, and you can watch Encounter Life's next live stream on Sunday at 5 p.m. both on Facebook and YouTube Live.