Belle Glade Pastor Believes Church Fire Was Arson

| July 4, 2010

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — A Belle Glade congregation is picking up the charred pieces of their church after an early morning fire on Saturday.

The fire broke out at the Mount Zion AME Church on Southwest 10th Street. The pastor at the church said he doesn't think it was an accident.

The church has smoke and structural damage, instruments were ruined and bibles were left damaged and strewn across the floor.

The Rev. Melvin Hymes said he thinks someone was behind the fire, but crews are still investigating.

"I don't know who would want to burn a house of God," he said. "We are not going to let one setback destroy 83 years of service to this community."

Belle Glade City Commissioner William Grear said he had a message for the person or people responsible for the fire.

"We're not going to stand for this," Grear said. "We are not going to stand for you hurting Mount Zion or any place in our city."

Grear said he has attended the church since he was a young boy, and now he's helping to put the pieces back together.

"It's going to be a community outcry to do whatever we can to assist Rev. Hymes in getting this church back up and running," Grear said. "I feel horrible that it happened to the church, but I'm saddened more so for the person that would do it. They don't understand that this is the house of the Lord."

The congregation remains faithful that their place of worship will be restored.

"You rebuild God's house," said parishioner Lois William. "That's their plan — rebuild God's house like it's supposed to be."

Hymes said he plans to hold Sunday service in nearby Fellowship Hall. He said copper and other office items have been stolen from the church before, but the investigation into the fire is ongoing.

 

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