Three Black churches in Louisiana have been set on fire over the last nine days.
The blazes in the south-central St. Landry Parish each contained “suspicious elements,” said officials.
St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre was razed on March 26. Seven days later, the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas burned to the ground and then Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, also in Opelousas, burned on April 4.
Louisiana’s governor John Bel Edwards asked residents to show the love for suffering congregants.
“Our churches are sacred, central parts of our communities and everyone should feel safe it their place of worship,” said Edwards. “My heart goes out to each of the congregations and all of those who call these churches home.”
So far, fire marshal H. (Butch) Browning has been tight-lipped regarding the details of the Mount Pleasant burning, but mentioned arson probes can drag on for months as investigators sort through evidence and re-create fire scenes.
“The most important thing we can do today is embrace this church community, embrace these citizens and embrace these pastors,” said Browning.
All that was left standing at the Mount Pleasant site was an empty shell of a building, reported The Acadia Advocate.
“All the work that has been put into that and the history that it has . . . it was heartbreaking,” said Mount Pleasant pastor the Rev. Gerald Toussaint. “But just because you burn a building doesn’t mean you can destroy the church. You can’t destroy the church because the church is in the people, not in the building.”
This is devastating.