ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Saturday morning, New Life Missionary Baptist Church became the fifth place of worship to burn in nine days, while agents investigated blazes set at other churches in north St. Louis and Jennings, MO.
"I was baptized at New Life," Valerie McMiller looked at the charred door and siding of the church. She had been a member since she was eight. "My children, who are now 13 and 14, were baptized here."
"It is arson," said St. Louis Fire Captain Garon Mosby. "These are being intentionally set. This is not spontaneous combustion, so they are not occurring on their own."
Pastor David Triggs got the call around 5 a.m. He rushed to the church on Plover Ave. at Bircher Blvd.
"I started praising God that no one was in the building."
St. Louis Fire, Regional Bomb and Arson, and Federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigators looked for any link between this and other church fires in predominately African-American neighborhoods of North City and North County.
Pastor Triggs said he did not know when members would be allowed inside the church. But, he said New Life had previously acquired a new building. The move-in date was just weeks away.
"Hold on to the memories that we have," McMiller had a message for the teen members of New Life. "But, also be excited about our new journey."
"I have prayed for them," said Triggs of the arson suspects. "I have forgiven them. I don't want the communities to be angry. I don't want the churches to be angry, because it is in these moments that our character is tested."
Sunday morning, church members will gather at 11 a.m. on the lawn. They will turn the scene into a church once again.
New Life Missionary Baptist Church
Sunday, October 18, 2015
4569 Plover Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63120