Members of a South Carolina church are trying to piece together what exactly happened to their executive building which was set ablaze by a suspected arsonist early Sunday morning. The Spirit Filled Ambassadors for Christ church in Andrews, South Carolina was informed just days before Christmas that someone broke into the building they use for gatherings, events and Sunday school and set several fires, the AP reports.
Shaneka Newell, the lead administrator for the apostolic church in the small town 60 miles north of Charleston, said that the fire was intentional. She said that the perpetrator apparently started the fire by setting tablecloths and various papers on fire. Newell added, “You can tell someone walked around and set what they wanted on fire.”
The church’s sanctuary, which is located across the street, was not damaged but Newell said it will be “a huge impact to rebuild” the structure, as the walls and parts of the ceiling will have to be removed and replaced.
In a Facebook post, the church shared photos of the damage and revealed that no one was injured in the blaze. “Our ministry lost everything inside of the building, only leaving the building structure behind. As much as our ministry gives back to the community someone decided to destroy what was built,” the post reads.
The fire, however, did not discourage the congregation from attending service on Sunday. SFAC Pastor Deshawn Rouse told WBMF that he spent the entire service lifting the members’ spirits. “We just spent the service praying for the person or persons who did it and asking God to fill that void that’s missing in that person’s life that would make them do that to a sanctuary,” he said.
Rouse said someone broke in about midnight. They also broke a window on a church bus.
The pastor said he received a call regarding the fire around 4 a.m. and by the time he arrived at the church, the blaze had been extinguished.
FBI and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are investigating the incident, which Newell said police and fire officials confirmed was not an accident.
The church has launched a GoFundMe page with a fundraising goal of $20,000 to aid in their restorative efforts. “In our efforts to Restore our Executive Center this GoFundMe has been created for the ‘Restoration Project’. At this point we have lost everything and we need your help,” the church wrote on their Facebook page.
As of Thursday, the church received nearly $2,000 in donations.