• Atlanta Northcutt

Church target of arson

Updated: Jul 2

By: James Clark -- Editor for the Southern Standard

Pictured is one of two broken windows at Charles Creek the Baptist Church of Christ.

Church members are providing prayers while deputies are seeking suspects after a rural church was set on fire over the weekend.

Charles Creek the Baptist Church of Christ was the target of the crime, which was discovered Saturday morning by a church member after the fire was already out. The church suffered fire damage to one pew and the area around it, along with smoke damage throughout the building.

According to the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, a window was broken and an accelerant was thrown through the window. Sheriff’s Department Major Jason Walker declined to say if the accelerant was a Molotov cocktail, which is a device usually containing gasoline commonly used in street crime.

Walker said investigators with the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Unit processed the scene and officers are following up leads.

Two windows were broken. The accelerant was thrown through one window and it’s believed the other window was broken on the other side of the church to create a cross draft to fan the flames.

Said longtime church member John Pelham, “Whoever would do something like this, they need our prayers and we came together and we prayed for whoever is responsible on Sunday. I also believe 100% that the Lord put out that fire. The church probably should have been destroyed, but God didn’t allow it.”

Since the fire was extinguished before it was discovered, the church didn’t suffer water damage. The primary damage was to the pew where the accelerant landed. The time of the incident is believed to be late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

The church is located just off Crisp Springs Road not far from Short Mountain Road.

Pelham said church membership is right at 150 and outdoor services were held this past Sunday.

“There is certainly a shock and you wonder how could anybody do this,” said Pelham. “We were determined to have church on Sunday and we’re going to have church this coming Sunday. We have a pavilion where we can meet because it’s important to us to be on the grounds. Our church is strong and we’ll be fine. We’re going to get this fixed and continue.”

Anyone with information can call the Sheriff’s Department at 473-7863. 

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