Massive church fire ruled arson

HOUSTON There was little firefighters could do to save the Servant Savior Presbyterian Church. Flames quickly consumed the 40-year-old building. In the daylight church members sifted through the debris and wondered who would intentionally burn the church down.

"Whoever did this, we forgive them," said church member Darcy Bryan-Wilson. "God forgives them. I think that must be a very angry, hopeless person who would set fire to a church."

Bryan-Wilson and her entire family are long-time church members. Rosy Murphy, 10, was baptized here.

"Some churches say sit down and we'll tell you a story," Rosy said. "But in our church we say, 'Do you have any questions? Would you like to learn about this?'"

The question on the minds of congregation is did the church's openness toward the gay lesbian community make it an arson target?

"I don't think it would be surprising," said church member Ellie Brown. "I think that kind of goes with the territory, with being a church that's welcoming to everybody."

Other than ruling the fire was intentionally set, investigators don't have any suspects and aren't certain of the motive. The pastor says no matter what, they will rebuild.

Pastor Alan Brehm said, "It won't be the same, but I think it will be, because the same group of people and the same spirit will be here."

Bryan-Wilson says the church philosophy won't change.

"We are committed to professing God's love to all of God's children," she said. "You can burn our building down, but you're not going to change how we feel about that."

In fact, church members say the only time they've ever been questioned about their policy of being open to the gay/lesbian/transgender communities was about five years ago, when a letter was written to the editor of a local community newspaper. Other than that, they haven't seen anything in recent years.

According to the church's website, they are a 'More Light' church. The 'More Light Presbyterians' say their mission is to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in the Presbyterian church.

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