MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP) — An arsonist attacked First Baptist Church in the early morning hours Thursday (Sept. 30), causing extensive damage throughout the campus.
Fires were set in several areas of the church building, according to a Facebook post by pastor Mark Bethea, including the sanctuary and the church’s historic Stakely sanctuary.
“First responders arrived quickly and minimized what could have been a catastrophic event,” Bethea said.
Several pews were destroyed and some carpet burned in the main sanctuary, and the church’s reception office was completely destroyed, according to Bethea. Carpet in the Stakely sanctuary was damaged, and smoke and soot spread throughout the buildings.
“There is an active investigation currently into who would have done this, and I encourage you to pray for this person who would seek to damage what the Lord has done for 192 years in the heart of downtown Montgomery,” Bethea said.
Bethea said the church plans to meet Sunday, though he’s “not sure at this time what it will look like.” He noted the church also will continue with its plan to take the Lord’s Supper together as part of Worldwide Communion Sunday.
In his post, Bethea asked members and friends to “recall our Scripture memory verse that we have spoken and memorized alongside one another each time we gather: ‘For God has given us a spirit not of fear, but of power, love, and self-control’” (2 Timothy 1:7).
“You are loved, prayed for and so deeply appreciated,” he wrote. “God is good. All the time.”
This story was originally published in The Alabama Baptist.