Church hosting first major event since person set building on fire

The ‘We All Have Hope’ event runs every day from July 21-29.
A church hit by an arsonist intending to burn down the building is now preparing to host its first major event starting today.
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 6:04 PM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - A church hit by an arsonist is now preparing to host its first major event since the fire, starting Thursday and running through the next 10 days.

WBTV first brought you this story in November. York County deputies responded to a fire inside New Life Seventh Day Adventist Church in Rock Hill.

Investigators say a suspect, or suspects, used rocks to break out windows of the church -- then used a rag to set a fire inside.

It took months to reopen the church. The church did not get cleaned up and ready to go again until March. However, now the pastor says the church is thriving.

”It’s still devastating to know that someone attempted to burn our church down,” New Life Pastor Monte Newbill says.

The fire was investigated as a possible hate crime—even getting federal officials involved. Still, no arrests have been made.

”It being an open case is a little surprising,” Newbill says. “We would like to know who did it. We just want that person to know we do forgive them and we’re praying for them.”

While it took months to reopen, the church wasn’t damaged beyond repair, and neither were the spirits of the people who gather inside its walls.

”It was so good to be back. Cause just driving by and pulling up and seeing the cardboard and whatever it was and the door gone and the window gone, it broke my heart really,” Charles Crosby, a New Life churchgoer of 25 years, says.

”I just thank God it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but I’m still hoping there is a message of hope,” Newbill says.

Hope. One word that this church is carrying into its next chapter.

Newbill says it is the word he used to push himself to ask himself a tough question after the fire.

”It made us re-evaluate and made us consider, ‘are we giving God and the community the ultimate best that we have?’” he says.

The short answer was no.

So Newbill says the church leaders got to work—upgrading the sanctuary with new equipment to help in-person and streaming services as well as security like cameras and alarm systems for protection. The new additions now allow the church to have its first major praise and worship event with the continued message of hope.

”If we tried to do this a year ago we wouldn’t have been able to,” he says. “But because of the damage it opened us up to see that we need to do differently.”

So this negative is now being turned into a positive. Letting the church members turn their test into a testimony, for hope.

”It’s a good feeling to know that a church that’s been attacked, a church that was singled out to have destruction brought to it, is now in a place where we’re not harping on the bad that happened. We’re harping on what good can come from it,” Newbill says.

The ‘We All Have P̶r̶o̶b̶l̶e̶m̶s̶ Hope’ event runs every single day from Thursday to July 29.

Newbill says all of the topics are about finding hope in your situation no matter what is going on. Each day has a different topic and kids are also being taught lessons as well. Special guest Roger Hernandez will be preaching as well.

Related: Federal agents assisting with investigation into York County church fire

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