HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — A Hopewell church was destroyed in a fire last Friday that investigators confirmed was a result of arson.
Firefighters were called to Hopewell Church of the Nazarene, located off Smithfield Avenue, at 10:43 p.m. on April 5. Authorities told 8News that they detained two juveniles believed to be involved in the case but only have charges against one of them.
Church members, including locals who live near the church, told 8News on Monday they have lost a cornerstone of their community and the memories that came along with it. “To know that someone would heinously do something like this,” said Melissa Taylor, “it’s appalling.”
The blaze broke windows, ripped through the roof and melted moments for churchgoers.
“I did youth group. I sang in competition with this church,” Taylor recalled. “It’s a lot, we’ve been here many many years.”
Hopewell’s assistant fire marshal said pinpointing the juveniles responsible was easy.
“They were still here at the scene when crews and police arrived. There was some other involvement of crimes here in the city,” Hopewell Assistant Fire Marshal Jamie Scott told 8News.
One of the minors now faces arson and larceny charges. Investigators say the other juvenile isn’t facing charges at the moment because their actions were not “criminal in nature.” ”The church needs to build bigger and better and hopefully those children will get help,” Taylor said.
Taylor told 8News that there’s room for redemption.
“Maybe they clean the church for a whole year, free of charge. Just to give back for what they took away.”
The Hopewell Church of the Nazarene is accepting donations for its repairs. You can click or tap here to donate.