Churches react to arson arrests - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Churches react to arson arrests

By Bob Hallmark - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Told by officials that churches could breath easy, many were thankful the hunt for suspects was over.

"Its like a big sigh of relief right now it feels like a big burden has been lifted off my heart, its amazing," says Clear Springs Baptist pastor Brandon Owens.

Members of affected churches are overjoyed to hear about the arrests, not out of any sense of personal justice, but glad to know that these particular suspects will not be able to set fire to any more churches.

"We hope and pray that this has stopped everything, the arsons around the churches that's the main thing," Owens says.

"For all the churches that weren't affected directly, I was thrilled for them because that takes some pressure off of them," says pastor Bryan Brandt of the Athens Grace Community Church.

"I'm just so overwhelmed right now hearing that these guys have actually been caught," Owens says.

Several pastors attended the press conference.

"I'm feeling tremendously relieved, I'm feeling very thankful, we're just happy that no other churches are going to be under attack, nobody's going to have to go through what we went through, if in fact it turns out to be these are the men responsible," says pastor David Mahfood of Tyler's Tyland Baptist Church.

But there was one question for all of the effected churches.

"And the question is why? why?" says Owens.

"I guess I'd just be asking them why?" says Mahfood.

"What's in their heart that makes them want to do something like this, why did they point at churches, what is it about a church that they felt the need to destroy," says Tyland Baptist member Juanita Wiggins.

They hope this will be the end of a nightmarish 6 weeks in East Texas. All of the churches that were victimized by arson's have made arrangements to hold their services at alternate buildings.

Copyright 2010 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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