Fire and faith and forgiveness

On Tuesday, Denbigh Presbyterian Church in Newport News, Virginia suffered its second arson attack of the summer. The responsible party torched an education wing, including burning decorations and banners made for Vacation Bible School.

And this was the second break-in and fire this summer at the church. On June 14, someone broke into the church office, set fire to the copying machine, and damaged items in the pastor’s study, including pictures of past ministers.

The Newport News police have arrested a 15-year-old male and charged him with the crime. (This article in the Daily Press, registration required, says he’s been charged with burglary, arson, destruction of property and petty larceny, and that he’s being questioned about the June incident.)

It’s hard for me to write about this dispassionately. I grew up in that church. I was baptized there and confirmed there. I sang in the choir. I went to Vacation Bible School there and Sunday School. Frankly, I find it really hard to forgive this one. I believe in forgiveness, but it’s hard to practice it when I’m so mad. I don’t understand what would drive someone to do this. Break in and look for food, sure. Break in just to break things?

I’ve never met the Reverend Deborah Dail, the current pastor of the church, but I am awed by her ability to forgive even this repeated attack.

As I find out more about what’s happened, including opportunities to help, I’ll post more.