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Vandals set fire to South Carolina church’s gathering hall

December 26, 2019 GMT

ANDREWS, S.C. (AP) — Members of a South Carolina church said someone broke into a building they use for gatherings and set several fires.

Someone also broke nearly all the windows on a church bus sometime early Sunday morning at the Spirit Filled Ambassadors for Christ church in Andrews, Pastor Deshawn Rouse said.

Several tablecloths in the Georgetown County church’s Executive Hall were set on fire. Pictures posted to the church’s Facebook page show burned tables, soot on the walls and other damage.

The church’s sanctuary was not damaged, so services went on even with heavy hearts, Rouse told WMBF-TV.

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“The members were shocked when they found out what happened, so I spent the whole service trying to encourage everyone to lift spirits in and we just spent the service praying for the person or persons who did it and asking God to fill that void that’s missing in that person’s life,” Rouse said.

The State Law Enforcement Division is helping Andrews Police investigate the fire and vandalism. The state agency has been called in to investigate most church fires in South Carolina since a series of blazes at houses of worship in the 1990′s.

Rouse said the FBI has also been called in to help the investigation at the predominately African American church, also something that routinely happens in arson cases with mostly black congregations.