Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ohio church struck by arson

(The Review) - The large cross in the field next to a Marlboro Township church is wrapped in crime scene tape.

Marlboro Township police and fire personnel remained at St. Nikolai Orthodox Church, 9831 State St. NE in Louisville, most of the morning as they, along with the Ohio Fire Marshal’s office, looked for leads into who attempted to burn down this two-year-old church.

Crews were dispatched to the church around 8:26 a.m. Sunday for the fire, after Father Mikel Hill had arrived to prepare the building for that morning’s service and was greeted by the smell of fuel and smoke.

According to Marlboro Township Fire Chief Matt Anstine, a broken window on the back side of the building was used to gain entry. Most of the blaze was out with crews tackling some hot spots, but a haze of smoke remained, he said.

Marlboro police chief Ron Devies said that there was evidence that diesel and propane may have been used as accelerants. He estimates that the blaze had been set shortly before 6 a.m., which would have been 3 1/2 hours before the liturgy service was scheduled to begin, according to the bulletin discovered on the church’s website.

“Whoever did this definitely wanted to send a message to this congregation,” Devies said, adding that while it is too early for a damage estimate, the facility suffered water, fire and accelerant damage. Devies said that he is unsure if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Church Task Force may take interest in this particular case.

Parishoners of this church moved into the facility two years ago, when Orthodox church bishops in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania acknowledged the need for a pan-Orthodox church in this area. Less than four years earlier, the bishop of the Bulgarian Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America had blessed the church’s future site, five acres of the neighboring Rainbows End Farm.

The St. Nikolai Orthodox effort was founded by some members of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, who sought out a place where people of all cultures, races and religious backgrounds would be welcome.

Father Hill, who has been with the church since June, admits that although he and the parishoners are sad about the destruction of their house of worship, they have to reformulate a plan to continue. “I’m thankful that the building damage was relatively minimal, but obviously the person who did this must be an unhappy individual,” he continued.

“We pray for his salvation, but I now have to look for a temporary place of worship. Our job is in knowing Christ and we can do that anywhere. I am hopeful and confident that God will allow us to continue forward,” Hill concluded.

1 comment:

  1. Lord have mercy. Fr Mikel is a dear friend. I was just there for his ordination a few months ago.