A Mississippi church whose leadership refused to close the church’s doors during the state’s COVID-19 lockdown is now no more.
What are the details?
An as-yet identified suspect reportedly burned the church down Wednesday morning.
The First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs was vandalized, which caused an explosion to the rear of the facility.
Authorities are investigating the vandalism as a criminal act of arson.
One message spray painted on the church property read, “I bet you stay home now you hypokrits [sic].”
Stephen Crampton, an attorney for the church, told WHBQ-TV on Thursday that the unknown vandal or vandals spray-painted the church and set it on fire.
“There was a major explosion in the back of the church that blew out the front,” Crampton said.
Crampton also said that he believed the church was targeted for “being outspoken and somewhat firm about seeking to protect their constitutional rights” by refusing to close during the pandemic.
We’re in a time where I don’t think it’s any secret that there’s a growing hostility toward churches across the board,” he said. “And now, here are churches like First Pentecostal that are sort of stirring up the waters by being outspoken and somewhat firm about seeking to protect their constitutional rights.”
He added, “[The church has] had bad comments [sent their way] on social media. There is just a segment that takes issue with the church standing up, and the church just being the church.”
Pastor Jerry Waldrop promised that the church would be rebuilt.
“We are going to keep the faith, and we’re going to keep doing what we have always done, and maybe not on this location,” Waldrop said. “I’ll get with our faithful people, and maybe we’ll rent a building or whatever we need to do for the time being.”
He added that the church will be rebuilt on site, and said that he didn’t feel new construction would be an issue for the church and its community.
“We have the means, so whatever it takes, that’s what we will do,” Waldrop continued. “We have a tight group that’s been faithful, so whatever means are necessary, that is what I will do.
“It’s just hard to wrap your head around the idea that someone may have orchestrated this or done this,” he concluded.