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Arsonist’s streak included one of Mississippi’s oldest Black Lutheran churches

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An alleged arsonist is in custody after allegedly going on a spree early Tuesday, setting fire to seven structures, including two churches near the Jackson State campus. According to the Jackson Police Department, Devin McLaurin was arrested Tuesday evening with the help of Hinds County sheriff’s deputies near the Hinds/Copiah county line.”This was like a home church, and it brought families together,” said a longtime member of Epiphany Lutheran Church. “It educated us. This was like a village, and I just hate that this village has been destroyed. But it’s going to move on.” The church member didn’t want to be identified, but she, like many others in the west Jackson community, was mourning the total loss of her church and the severe fire damage done to a historic section of Greater Bethlehem Temple Church. Both of the churches are pillars for the community. “This church has been here since back in the 1940s. It’s one of the oldest predominantly Black Lutheran churches in the state of Mississippi,” said Epiphany church member Bobby Hathorne. “This is a shock to us that something like this could happen.” Ervin Ricks, communications director for Greater Bethlehem Temple Church said the children’s Sunday school area was damaged by the fire. “We can’t always understand why people do evil, but we know that it’s our job. It’s our job to overcome evil with good. That’s why we’re committed to continue to help this community,” Ricks said.

An alleged arsonist is in custody after allegedly going on a spree early Tuesday, setting fire to seven structures, including two churches near the Jackson State campus.

delvin mclaurin

ABCHinds County Sheriff’s Office

Delvin McLaurin

According to the Jackson Police Department, Devin McLaurin was arrested Tuesday evening with the help of Hinds County sheriff’s deputies near the Hinds/Copiah county line.

“This was like a home church, and it brought families together,” said a longtime member of Epiphany Lutheran Church. “It educated us. This was like a village, and I just hate that this village has been destroyed. But it’s going to move on.”

The church member did not want to be identified, but she, like many others in the west Jackson community, was mourning the total loss of her church and the severe fire damage done to a historic section of Greater Bethlehem Temple Church.

Both of the churches are pillars for the community.

“This church has been here since back in the 1940s. It’s one of the oldest predominantly Black Lutheran churches in the state of Mississippi,” said Epiphany church member Bobby Hathorne. “This is a shock to us that something like this could happen.”

Ervin Ricks, communications director for Greater Bethlehem Temple Church said the children’s Sunday school area was damaged by the fire.

“We can’t always understand why people do evil, but we know that it’s our job. It’s our job to overcome evil with good. That’s why we’re committed to continue to help this community,” Ricks said.

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