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Cumberland Church Burning May Have Been Arson

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FAYETTEVILLE — When you think of your church or synagogue, you probably think ofsomeplace sacred and immune from evil. An arsonist in Cumberland Countyis shaking the faith of the Genesis Free Will Baptist congregation. Theirchurch building has been burned to the ground. Investigators now saythey have good reason to suspect arson.

It's a scene fire investigators have become all too familiar with-- churchbuildings catching fire. Now a Cumberland County church is trying to putthe pieces of it's history back together.

The fire is devastating to church member Gene Boehning. "It's anold building, but still it's church property," he says. "It's a shamethat people destroy our church property."

The people of Genesis Free Will Baptist Church first started worshipingmore than a decade ago. Last year they moved to a different building andsince have just used it to store important papers. That alone is causeenough for suspicion. But there's more.

Investigators discovered the door of the church had been kicked in andthat's what made them suspicious of the fire in the church's old storagebuilding.

Pastor Al Markuson says he's never had racial problems in hiscongregation despite the 30 or so ethnic groups represented by churchmembers.

There are Just a lot of heavy hearts this morning at the loss of thisfacility and curiousity as to who would have wanted to destroy thesacred building.

Right now investigators won't get specific on exactly how the firestarted. They're still questioning several people and followingup on several leads.

Terri Gruca reporting