By Staff, Baptist Message
SLIDELL – The pastor and the congregation of Bayou Baptist Church are resolute but still shocked after their church was torched by an arsonist for the second time in 10 months.
“We don’t know who would want to do this to us,” Pastor Frank Treme shared with the Baptist Message, adding, “We have never had any prior incidents where someone accused us of ill will that I am aware of.
“We are a church for all races and people,” he said. “This church is a safe haven for all people and we would like for all people to feel safe coming into God’s house to worship and pray.
“It is hard for everyone in our church,” Treme continued. “We have had to overcome so much. First, we had to rebuild after the flooding from Hurricane Katrina, then the fire in October, and now this.”
Treme said his congregation of 50 or so came together to face these other challenges, and he is confident they will rise to the occasion this time, too.
In the early morning of July 2, a neighbor called 911 to report flames engulfing the church according to a release by the Slidell Police Department.
Firefighters arrived in just over two minutes after the 7:30 a.m. call and found flames leaping from the front and rear of the 2,500 square foot building and heavy smoke enveloping the structure. The fire department was able to extinguish the fire in about 15 minutes without any injuries to the response team.
The fire department is reporting the building as “a total loss.”
“We’re not giving up because someone wants to do us harm,” Treme said. “If you do that, they win and we lose. Several people from the neighborhood have dropped by and said it’s such a loss. It’s a comfort knowing we touch so many lives in this area.”
The church, which was vacant and did not have electricity according to the release, was in the process of being renovated from the October 2015 blaze.
Treme said the fire occurred in a section of the church property that did not affect ongoing renovations to one of the other buildings on the campus.
Director of Missions Lonnie Wascom said to his knowledge this is the first time a church in the Northshore Baptist Association, which includes Bayou Baptist, has been victimized by an arsonist – not once but twice.
“We all are in a state of shock,” said Wascom. “Right now the best way to help is to pray.”
Treme echoes the thought.
“Pray for Gods guidance,” he said. “And pray this person will be caught so he or she won’t be destroying anymore lives. We won’t be stopped in our mission to minister to all in Christ’s name.”
According to Fire Prevention Officer Chad Duffaut for Fire District 1, the arsonist set the first fire in October to cover up a burglary. The resulting blaze caused extensive damage.