Juvenile detained in Hopewell church arson

Juvenile detained in Hopewell church arson

HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - After massive flames tore through the roof of the first Church of the Nazarene late Friday night, the outside walls are all that remained intact of this house of worship Saturday morning.

People came throughout the day to see what was left of the old building.

Fire crews were called to the Hopewell Church of the Nazarene off Smithfield Avenue around 10:40 p.m. Friday.

Fire crews from Chesterfield, Prince George and Fort Lee helped to assist Hopewell Fire with the blaze. The flames were under control just after 1 a.m.

No one was inside the church.

The fire has been ruled as arson, according to the church’s Facebook account. Fire officials confirmed a juvenile has been detained on potential charges of arson, burglary, trespassing, grand larceny and vandalism.

Another juvenile was also on scene at the time, but officials said their involvement was not criminal in nature.

Both juveniles were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

From the blown out windows to the gaping hole in the roof, Hopewell Fire deemed the church a total loss.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for Frances Arpaia. Though she is no longer a member, Arpaia said she was here when the church first opened its doors in 1964.

“My heart drops when I look at it and I think of the times when I washed those windows and hung up drapery,” said Arpaia.

Arpaia said that the church was getting ready to celebrate its 55th anniversary on Easter Sunday.

“It’s just hard to believe you’re here one minute and the next day you’re gone,” said Arpaia. “My family had come here years ago when they first opened up and on the first Easter that they opened.”

The long-time member holds the church close in her memories.

“We were all saved, my whole family was saved through this church right in those walls,” said Arpaia. “It’s sad that the building is gone, but it’s not sad that you have all these precious memories.”

Now just weeks away from Easter Sunday, Arpaia, like so many others, is praying for a miracle of rebirth for the church.

“This church preaches that you have to be reborn again,” said Arpaia. “It’s very sad, but the way I think about it right now, I think Christ has something very special planned for the Church of the Nazarene.”

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