Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Church Burns

Did you know there was an arson at Pine Lake Baptist Church in 1996?

Morris, Mike. (1996, 7 June). Fire Hits Pine Lake Church. Atlanta Journal.

Here's the text:
Federal and DeKalb County arson officials are investigating a "suspicious" fire that destroyed the old sanctuary at the Pine Lake Baptist Church today. 
The fire, which was reported just before 3 a.m., gutted the 48-year-old structure that housed the church's youth department, said Pine Lake police sergeant Fred Semp. No one was injured in the blaze. 
The fire apparently started on the front porch and quickly spread through the wooden building, the officer added. 
"A lady who lives across the street from the church heard a loud car stereo, then she heard the car speed off," Stemp said. 
The neighbor looked outside, and the church was on fire," he said. 
An accelerant-sniffing dog was brought to the scene in the 4800 block of Rockbridge Road to help search for the cause of the fire, which also was being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. 
The building that burned was once the church's main sanctuary, but it has been replaced by a newer brick building.
"The saddest thing I've seen was the people who are about 40 who came by here who were baptized there," said Glen Chrisler, chairman of the church's board of deacons. "There's people who have sentimental ties to that building." 
As for the possibility that today's fire could be connected to a string of recent black church burnings across the South, Crisler said, "Any connection would be speculation." 
"I just think it's tragic that we're seeing this all across the country," said Eric Mathison, senior pastor at the First Baptist Church of Avondale. "Burning churches-- I don't see what kind of a message people would try to send with that."
There were indeed many church burnings in the 90s and early 2000s, most of Black churches. They occurred all around the South, and to my knowledge the perpetrator(s) have never been caught. Just beside the article is a short article about a second church bombing-- a Black church in Rocky Point, NC.

For the record, Pine Lake Baptist Church is open to all races and has a mixed congregation.

My next post will feature related articles in the same issue of The Journal.