Three accused of arson in church fire

Brian Alexander Marines, 19, has been charged with arson to a place of worship

July 21, 2011 4:50:49 AM PDT
Just hours after three people were arrested for setting a church on fire, a Baytown congregation is uniting, turning a weekly service into a sign of survival and recovery. The fire destroyed the church but not the congregation's spirit.

Living Hope Church is damaged and all boarded up, but its members say they are moving on by forgiving the teens accused of torching this place.

Through song and praise, this congregation is finding strength after learning investigators arrested three teens accused of setting fire to the church on Monday.

"Naturally, you're tomented by the idea that somebody would do this. And I'll be honest with you, I was very elated to know that they had found suspects right away," Pastor Kevin Kleinhenz said.

Among the suspected church arsonists is Brian Alexander Marine, 19, and two underage teens.

"By all practical means, they don't realize the devastation they've done, and they don't really realize the devastation to their future," Kleinhenz said.

Many of the Living Hope members were emotional as they arrived for service at a community center near their burned out church. Several of them cried while praying for the accused teens who deputies say each confessed to torching the church building.

"We're looking at months of inconvenience. These young men are looking at years and years of inconvenience," Kleinhenz said.

Pastor Kleinhenz and these members say they'll move on from this tragedy by faith, as they've done before, and by forgiving Marine and the other two suspects charged with arson to a place of worship.

"We make small adjustments, but the church is not about the building. The church is about the people," Kleinhenz said.

Marine remains in jail on a $750,000 bond. The pastor says in the meantime, Living hope with be sharing space at the New Journey Church.

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