Burned church finding forgiveness

By Sara Story - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - They're accused of setting ten East Texas churches ablaze. Now, Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister know when they'll be tried. Jury selection begins in January. The two will be appear in court separately, a year after their alleged crime spree began.

The family of Tyland Baptist Church said it's been a long year. Their spiritual home was set on fire last January, and since then, Tyland Baptist Church has been worshipping at Willow Brook Baptist Church.

"They have opened their heart and home to us," Tyland Baptist Church Pastor David Mahfood said.

Tyland congregation members are thankful for their temporary home, but said they are anxious for their permanent, new church to be built.

"You're going to see walls. Pretty much everything is dried in. A roof with no shingles, beams, tresses. It is looking very encouraging," Mahfood said.

It's encouraging progress for a church that burned down less than a year ago.

"Losing all the memories that were tied to the physical locations. The tree under which someone proposed to someone, the baptismal that someone was baptized in, the pew that a married couple sat in for 45 years... those are gone," Mahfood said.

"It's been hard. It's been very eye-opening. It's been soul searching," Congregation member Mindy Reed said.

It's been a trying year, but this congregation said they've grown closer and even added new members along the way. Mahfood said that he hopes the approaching trial for the alleged arsonists will bring some much needed closure.

"I hurt for them, and I truly do. I don't know if I started out that way, but I feel that way now. I don't want to see their lives destroyed. I know they need to be accountable for what they did. I am just kind of anxious to get some closure to this," Mahfood said.

Tyland Baptist Church did have insurance, but they were $105,000 dollars under-insured, and are in need of donations.

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