Church vandalized; pews set on fire and air conditioning units destroyed

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HOT SPRING COUNTY, Ark. — A small church was vandalized, burglarized and set on fire in hot spring county this week.

“It’s just a quiet community church,” Rex Barker, a 15 year church member said.

“I guess, maybe it’s too quiet.”

Because whoever came around the Shorewood Hills United Methodist Church in the last 36 hours wasn’t seen, but the damage left certainly made their presence known.

“It’s just a sickening feeling,” Barker said.

The donated 100 year old pews were set on fire.

“The smoke damage is horrible. There’s a quarter inch of soot all over everything,” he said.

But miraculously, it didn’t spread to the all pine ceiling. It appears to have put itself out.

“From lack of oxygen or a greater power,” Barker said.

Outside the church, one air conditioning unit is destroyed, the other is severely damaged.

The copper from inside was cut but found in the trees next to the church.

“Basically just destroyed the units and got nothing out of it,” he said.

Those can be replaced, but the community built church would have never been the same.

“It’s a miracle it didn’t burn down.”

They pray that beyond the soot laden cobwebs, investigators can find some answers.

The members say they’ll have service on the lawn until they can get everything professionally cleaned and repaired.

They’ll be adding extra security to the grounds.

The Hot Spring County fire marshal is investigating, though no arrests or suspects have been named.

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