Local News

Clayton church fire deemed suspicious

Posted May 6, 2009

— Authorities said they believe a fire early Wednesday at a Clayton church might have been set.

Firefighters battled a blaze that started at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, at 5217 Barber Mill Road, shortly before 5:30 a.m. By the time firefighters arrived, flames were shooting through the roof, and smoke poured from the building, authorities said.

Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Clayton Clayton church vows to overcome fire

Firefighters found that a door to the church had been forced open, and Clayton police were called in to investigate.

Police found that the church's community center, which houses a gymnasium, a kitchen and some classrooms, also had been broken into. A fire that had been set there burned itself out and caused little damage, police said.

The fire left two gaping holes in the church's roof and caused extensive damage to the sanctuary. Still, members of the congregation said they would move forward together.

"The building is not our church. Our family is our church," Tanya Dale said.

Mt. Calvary has had a congregation in Clayton for almost a century, although the building that burned was built in the 1980s, said Rev. Darrell Sauls, pastor of the church. About 100 people are members of the church.

"(We're) receiving strength from each other, leaning on each other. Those blessings will carry us through the hurt (and) the grief of the situation," Sauls said, adding that he is searching for a temporary space to hold Sunday services.

"Being angry isn't going to bring the building back and isn't going to help them find the individual," he said.

Clayton police and fire authorities and agents from the State Bureau of Investigation and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives are investigating the fires. They had no suspects as of Wednesday afternoon.

"It's sad that there's so much meanness in the world and that someone would do this to a church," Dale said.

Anyone who might have seen suspicious vehicles or people near the church or along Barber Mill Road early Wednesday is asked to call the Clayton Police Department at 919-553-4611 or Clayton Crime Stoppers at 919-359-8479.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 7, 2009

    ad27617, umm...I think you missed the point. Why would a “holy” & “blessed” place of worship for a deity need to be protected...from that same deity? :-)

    loakl, steeple/rod...didn’t happen. And I’m sorry that you do not feel the love that Mithras has for you. But, your knee will bow before him one day. ;-)

    stratomaster, do tell where someone here was “bashing Christians”. Why are you playing the “poor oppressed *majority* religion” card by making stuff up?

  • john283594 May 6, 2009

    Wow, I am pretty sure that is my voting site...

  • wcumom May 6, 2009

    Isn't it amazing how many posters on here,like to tell other's what to say,what not to say,etc. Well,I am not a god fearing person as I don't beleive in the invisible,yet I hate to see any property damaged whether it be a church or store.Racially motivated???Many times it's one of their own who makes these accusations.Many fliers are distributed by who else.minorities.Heck you can print them out on your PC at home.It's called "drawing attention to the cause".

  • stratomaster May 6, 2009

    It's always interesting in our politically correct society that it's 100% okay to bash Christians but if you make the slightest comment about Muslims, Jews or even our current President, everyone comes out of the woodwork crying "foul, racist, bigot, etc"...

  • loulou May 6, 2009

    I think they were being juvenile and referring to the steeple as a lightning rod. I'm sorry this person does not feel the love that Jesus Christ has for them. Every knee will bow one day.

  • ad27617 May 6, 2009

    A Church is a collective body of people, worshipping God & our savior Jesus Christ, as is their right in this free country. The church is a building used for such a gathering. A building is a building and they all need lightning rods. Not that there was any mention of the church building being hit by lightning.

  • blumedenley May 6, 2009

    I hope they catch the person or persons who started this.

  • loulou May 6, 2009

    Chanel 11 has a much more descriptive article.

  • loulou May 6, 2009

    Actually the part about arson and vandalization has been confirmed to me by Clayton police. I've just done a better job covering the story.

  • ThatsWhatIThought May 6, 2009

    Of course this discussion will turn into a debate on whether there is a God or not. Let's keep it civil and think about this congregation. It doesn't matter if it's a church or a home, it's still intentional and the main objective is to catch who done this and justice to be served.