Pastor of Burnt Church Holds Service: “We Haven't Stopped to Agonize … That's Not Who We Are”

Investigators suspect arson in South LA church blaze

suspected arson fire that nearly destroyed a South Los Angeles church couldn’t destroy parishioners' spirits as they clapped and sang at the weekly service Sunday, two days after a blaze ripped through the structure.

“We're just waiting to see what God is going to do this time,” said Pastor Ernest Alexander, of Bethesda Temple Apostolic Church.

Churchgoers gathered in the parsonage next to Besthesda Temple Apostolic Church in Leimert Park for Sunday service after the blaze destroyed the majority of the church April 26.

The parsonage, a part of the church typically used to house clergy members, was the only part of the church that was salvaged in the massive blaze.

“Because we don't consist of bricks and mortar, pastor has told us church is in us,” said Melba Coleman, the church’s consultant.

No injuries were reported in the blaze that started at 2 a.m. April 26, but most of the structure was turned to ash and rubble (pictured below).

A special task force had sifted through debris for clues in an attempt to determine if the fire was intentionally set.

"We haven’t stopped to ruminate and agonize because that's not who we are,” Coleman said.


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The church has been in various locations for 25 years. The pastor purchased the church at 4909 Crenshaw Blvd. after a fire had destroyed the structure in 1997. 

Los Angeles mayoral hopeful Eric Garcetti and South LA Councilwoman Jan Perry visited the church to express support for the parishioners.

A PayPal account has been set up to help rebuild the church. Anyone who wants to help can contact church officials on their Facebook page here: Bethesda Temple Church Apostolic Faith.

Correction: A previous version of this article indicated the church location at 3909 Crenshaw Blvd.The correct address is 4909 Crenshaw Blvd.

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