East Texas congregation prays for men who torched their church

Print
Email
|

by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on January 10, 2011 at 8:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 11 at 5:04 PM

WILLS POINT, Texas — Two men who pleaded guilty to setting a series of church fires are heading to prison.

Jason Bourque, 20, and 22-year-old Daniel Mcallister were sentenced to life in prison Monday.

Federal investigators say they burned 10 churches, many in East Texas, including Russell Memorial United Methodist Church in Wills Point.

"We really feel sorry for them... young lives that are just lost," said church member Larry Turner.

Russell Memorial was burned to the ground last February when, investigators say, both men broke through a door and set the chapel on fire.

It took eight months to rebuild the church, but less time to strengthen the congregation.

"We didn't just rebuild a building, we rebuilt the whole church," Turner said. "It just brought us a lot closer together."

Pastor Bill Watson says attendance is up, and to this day, he hasn't heard an angry word from his members about the young men who set the fire.

"We're more concerned about what's going on in their hearts to make them feel the kind of anger they must have felt to do the things they did," Watson said.

Every Sunday, members pray for the suspects. Some have even sent letters to them in jail.

The pain of that day in February remains, but there is forgiveness after the fire.

"We will never forget what happened; it will always be a part of who this church is," Pastor Watson said.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|