SUNSET, La. (KLFY) – The fires gutted St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church near Sunset.
Virgie Espree has been coming to church at Mount Pleasant Baptist since she was a child.
It was hard for her to see the church like this. But now that an arrest has been made, she was ready to see the damage for herself.
“I think I feel better much better now and I don’t have hate in my heart for nobody, nobody,” she said.
Holden Matthews, 21, of Opelousas has been charged with three counts of simple arson of a religious building.
Charred wood and debris are all that’s left of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. The church stone said it was built in 1904.
Despite the destruction church members say they are going to rebuild in the exact spot.
Eddie Taylor and James Espree are deacons at the church.
“We will rebuild in the same location, yes,” Espree said.
Pastor Freddie Jack, president of the Seventh District Missionary Baptist Association said all three churches had insurance and plan to rebuild.
Still, the insurance money won’t cover everything… so they’re trying to raise $1.8 million through a Go Fund Me account.
“We need all the help we can get but our help comes from the Lord that’s where our help comes from,” Taylor said.
“Do I have hate for the guy? No,” Espree said. “I can’t hate him. I’m going to have to forgive him. What he did was wrong. Maybe he didn’t know better, I’m sure he didn’t know better.”