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Baptist church in Phenix City becomes third in string of January church arsonscomment (0)

January 10, 2008

A Baptist congregation in Phenix City became east Alabama’s third victim of arson since the start of the new year, prompting the Alabama State Fire Marshals Office to open a command post to investigate, according to news reports.

Woodland Baptist Church in Russell Baptist Association suffered “extensive” damage, “to the point that the building will not be usable for the foreseeable future,” said Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).

According to a source at the scene, the arsonist apparently built a fire with the pulpit and the communion table.
Two church vans in the parking lot were also vandalized.

“We need to be praying for this church family and the other congregations who have suffered circumstances in recent days,” Lance said.

At press time, the SBOM planned to deliver a disaster relief check Jan. 7 to Woodland Baptist, led by Pastor Bobby Watford.

“The State Board of Missions is (also) responding with a mobile unit, if requested and when available,” Lance said.

Another Russell County congregation, the Greater Peace and Goodwill AME Church in Crawford, suffered major damage from an arson attack Jan. 1.

Later in the week, the Greater Bethelpore Baptist Church in Smiths Station was lost to a purposefully set fire.

“In order to facilitate our investigation, we are opening the command post with the assistance of the Lee and Russell (counties) sheriffs’ departments, the Phenix City Police and Fire Departments and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,” State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk told WSFA 12 News.

 According to Lance, Concord Baptist Church, Phenix City, was also vandalized.

“They cleaned up the facilities and they will meet there Sunday,” he said. “They say things are OK at the church.” (TAB)

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