As reported by NBC News, St. Mary’s Baptist Church was the first reported church fire on March 26. Then, Greater Union Baptist Church was set ablaze a week later. Mount Pleasant is the third church to burn down in St. Landry Parish, all in a span of 10 days. All three churches were well over a hundred years old.
In each case, investigators said they found “suspicious elements,” but no motive has been determined yet, nor are there any suspects and race has not yet been determined to have played a factor.
“Our churches are sacred, central parts of our communities and everyone should feel safe it their place of worship,” said Louisiana’s governor John Bel Edwards. “My heart goes out to each of the congregations and all of those who call these churches home.”
According to NYDN, fire marshal H. (Butch) Browning has been mum on details of the Mount Pleasant burning, but noted that arson investigations can last months.
“The most important thing we can do today is embrace this church community, embrace these citizens and embrace these pastors,” said Browning.
“All the work that has been put into that and the history that it has . . . it was heartbreaking,” said Mount Pleasant pastor the Rev. Gerald Toussaint. “But just because you burn a building doesn’t mean you can destroy the church. You can’t destroy the church because the church is in the people, not in the building.”