August 22, 2010
A fire kept members of Ruckersville Baptist Church outside Sunday morning, and the Greene County Sheriff's Office announced Monday afternoon that the cause of the fire was not accidental and it is currently being treated as arson.
"This is definitely a suspicious crime, and we're actively seeking leads. You're on church property. It's despicable. There's no other word for it," Greene County Sheriff Scott Haas said.
Crews responded to the fire shortly after 2:30 a.m. Sunday.
"The fire departments did a very good job saving the structure," Haas said. "There's a lot of damage inside, but it could have been worse."
Fire investigators sifted through the rubble Sunday morning as church members looked on in disbelief. This fire happened just weeks after vandals struck the church's stained glass windows.
"That's a building, and yes, we appreciate our building," said Rev. Kyle Clements, the church's pastor. "[But] it's nothing sacred about the building, it's the people."
While the fire did cause some extensive damage to the church itself, it did not damage the spirit of church members, who say their faith will get them through this tragedy.
"The devil did this. The devil had his hand in this, but the Lord will overcome," church member Debbie Clay said. "We will overcome whatever obstacle it is in our way."
The fire's damage was contained to the sanctuary, but other parts of the building suffered smoke and water damage. No one was injured in the blaze.
"They've got at rough road ahead of them, but there's no doubt they'll take care of it and rebuild it," Haas said.
Clements said the services will continue, either on the church's property or in another building.
"You can break my heart, but my spirit is not broken," Clements said. "It's a hurtful thing, but not the spirit."
Clements said he hopes to rebuild the church, depending on its structural integrity. But that cannot happen until the investigation is complete.
If you have information on the fire, contact the Greene County Sheriff's Office at 434-985-2222.