GFCI breaker failed to stop a smoldering issue was had (high-resistance connection likely). No spark typically mean no GFCI trip. I think the same would be true for AFCI, if all of the actual current is traveling as it should, right? In the case of the church, if the improper install of the bulbs caused a partial connection that resulted in sparks or a ground, it might have tripped.
Our condo had a couple of smoldering issues due to old aluminum wiring connections. We had an electrician mitigate by installing pig-tails and Al-coded connections/receptacles/switches/etc. Well, a neighbor had a small fire not too long after, so the same electrician (who just so happened to be related to the management association who we've just fired
) replaced our breakers with GFCI breakers for only the cost of the breakers.
I was the only person who brought up the fact that there was more to the problem that needed to be looked into and I also expressed my reservations about the effectiveness of GFCI breakers mitigating potentially high-resistance connections, which were the cause of the smoldering issues, including after the mitigation. I was really taken aback when it wasn't only the electrician who got defensive of the mitigation job when I asked if the fault could possibly be the electrician's doing and that we should consider having someone else check (or maybe just spot-check) his work.
Anyway, the GFCI breakers were approved to be installed by the same electrician. Not too long after, my wife called me at work and described an acrid odor only in our bedroom. Some investigation revealed that it was the receptacle the window A/C unit was plugged into. I told her to turn it off and open the bedroom breaker, so long as it was safe to do so - it was. Turns out, we had caught it just in time. The pig-tail and purple wire nut were charred to disintegration. The SAME electrician was able to come over and assess the situation within a couple of hours. He didn't outright say it, but implied that he was doing us a solid by leaving a picnic he was at to rush over. I very quickly replied back that our complex was experiencing MORE problems since he had "upgraded" our wiring several months ago than in the entire few years I had been there.