Church Looking to Rebuild After Fire - - ABC13

Church Looking to Rebuild After Fire


Reporter: James Gherardi | Videographer: RJ Burnette

Henry Co., VA - Two teenage boys are in juvenile detention in Henry County charged with burning a church to the ground.

The fire took place on the night of May 20. Police haven't released the names of the 16 and 17-year-old boys charged, but they're facing multiple felony charges, including arson.

This past Sunday, the parish of the New Holy Deliverance Church in Axton of more than 70 had no worship space. The couple that built the church more than 40 years ago says all they have now are memories.

"The Lord told me to build the church and that's what I did, with the volunteering people helping me," said Grady Wright.

"We had cars all parked, all down through here, and it was just a happy place for all of us to gather," said Virginia Wright.

Grady and Virginia Wright can remember building the original Baptist church that stood there more than 40 years ago. They, along with a group of volunteers, spent nearly a year laying each brick. All that remains now is a pile of smoldering rubble.

An early morning fire burned for several hours. Investigators say it was obvious soon after that this was set on purpose.

"We go through the process of eliminating all accidental sources, whether than be an electrical problem, or maybe something left plugged in," said Pete Draper with the Henry Co. Deputy Fire Marshal.

It's clear evidence on what remained of the building, and testimony from neighbors, led to the arrests of two young men.

"They were charged with breaking and entering with the intent to commit arson, also charged with arson, and then there was a grand larceny charge also," said Draper.

More than $130,000 was lost, but some say this space was priceless.

"Of course I'm 82 now, he's 86, and it was our life," said Virginia Wright.

The minister of the church says parishioners are meeting in a temporary space. She said they're planning fundraisers and other events to help re-build what was lost. The two teenage boys are being held in a detention center without bond.

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