Witnesses react as Dover Baptist Church burns - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Witnesses react as Dover Baptist Church burns

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By Taylor Hemness - bio | email

Albert Valadez isn't the first East Texan to have this thought in the last few weeks.

"It was just devastating. We didn't think it would happen to our church."

Valadez is a trustee at Dover Baptist, and says church members had done everything in their power to prevent the unthinkable.  

"Used a lot of methods to try to secure the doors...we had security cameras on there," Valadez said.

In addition to those measures, the church has had some watchful eyes over it. Jeff Palmer was married in the church, and told KLTV that he's been afraid it could be targeted for weeks, because it sits in a secluded area.

"When I've driven home, I've looked in the parking lot before I go to my house, or I look down the little farm road that goes off to the left," Palmer said. "I've been looking to make sure if I see any trucks or vehicles, that I'd maybe spot them, and be able to call somebody."

Pastor Carl Samples has been at Dover Baptist for almost a year. He told KLTV that as he watches his church burn, he was thinking about his congregation, and about any people who may have been involved.

"Disbelief and shock," Samples said. "I can't comprehend how anyone would do the Lord's house this way, if that's what it is. With all the other fires that's been around, it just leads one to believe that's possibly what it is."

But the people watching as the church burned weren't just members. The two young women who first saw the smoke and called authorities, say this trend has taken a whole new turn. 

"I cried because this hits home," said Felicia Parks. "This is home. I live not even a mile from here. This is home to us."

"This is our hometown," said Zacharea Leedy. "And people are coming and destroying churches in our hometown...this isn't right."

According to Pastor Samples, the congregation will meet in the coming days to decide what to do next. Samples also tells KLTV 7 that the building was insured.

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