Church That Fought Lockdown Is Burned to the Ground

Tate Reeves Twitter

Investigators believe the fire at First Pentecostal Church to be suspected arson, Maj.

Holly Springs City Attorney Shirley Byers said the city issued its own safer-at-home order on March 23, and it did not consider churches an essential service.

The judge declined to block the city's stay-at-home order, as the church had requested, and noted that the city had, in a subsequent executive order, allowed for drive-in church services.

Holly Springs City Attorney Shirley Byers said almost 40 parishioners inside the church building were not practicing social distancing on April 10 when a violation citation was issued for the church.

A church lawyer says police cited the pastor for holding an Easter service and later closed a Bible study.

A MS church burned in an apparent act of arson is the same church at the center of a legal battle with the city over safer-at-home orders issued in response to the coronavirus, according to officials.

Investigators found graffiti on pavement in the church parking lot that reads, "Bet you stay home now you hypokrits (sic)". "But if this is in fact what it looks like, I want you to know that we're going to do everything in our power to find whomever burned this church down".

The church was "burned to the ground" and had been trying to open services, Reeves tweeted Thursday. However, this conflicted with Reeves order, which counted churches as essential services and led to tensions with First Pentecostal Church.


Crampton told WATN Local 24 in a statement that the church hopes the perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice.

"We have a tight group that's been faithful, so whatever means is necessary that's what we'll do", said Waldrop.

Churchgoers practiced social distancing while indoors and only held indoor services when bad weather would not allow them to gather outside, the lawsuit said.

As of the end of the business day Wednesday, Mississippi had confirmed 12,222 COVID-19 cases and had had 580 deaths, according to the state health department.

While Pastor Waldrop remains unsure as to who started the church fire, he asserted that the church will be rebuilt.

The Republican governor said during a news conference in Jackson that the fire and the message make him "heartbroken" and "furious".

Investigators say numerous parishioners were home or out of town when the fire ripped through the church between 2 and 4 a.m. Wednesday, WMC-TV reported.

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