Pastor: trespassers steal copper, set fire to Phenix City church - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Pastor: trespassers steal copper, set fire to Phenix City church

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PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) -

While many businesses and government offices throughout the region were closed due to weather, firefighters in Phenix City didn't get any time off.  They were hard at work Tuesday night putting out a fire at a vacant church.

As snow fell hard on the roof of the former Grace Baptist Church, it did nothing to help extinguish the flames. The fire was so intense it prevented firefighters from entering the building for hours.

Senior pastor Joseph Appiah explained the congregation was forced out of the building about one year ago by vandals. The building fell into such a state of disrepair from repeated strikes, the parishioners moved to another building until they could raise money for renovations.

"I can see people breaking in and stealing the copper wires, the microwave, the refrigerator, the stove, and keep on doing that kind of stuff. But set it on fire? I'm shocked," said Pastor Appiah.

Appiah believes this fire was not an accident. He said there are plenty of smaller rooms in the building where it would have made more sense to start a fire if a trespasser was trying to stay warm. Because the fire began in the large sanctuary, he's convinced that it was meant to destroy the building.

"So someone went in there and just set it on fire. Just set the church on fire. God's church- on fire. But judgment day is coming. Judgment day is coming."

Pastor Appiah says his church is home to the earliest established community daycare in Phenix City. His congregations' hopes of moving back into the building are just about gone.

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