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$1 million in alleged arson suffered by historic North Carolina congregation


GREENVILLE, N.C. (BP) — One of North Carolina’s oldest Baptist church buildings suffered at least $1 million in damages from a blaze set by suspected arsonists Jan. 13.

The Memorial Baptist Church in Greenville was one of two churches targeted in suspected arson attacks during the night. The other church, Unity Free Will Baptist, sustained about $40,000 in damages.

At a third church, Oakmont Baptist, an apparent break-in was thwarted by an alarm.

All three congregations are within a mile of each other.

The blaze at The Memorial claimed the church’s educational wing and daycare area, built in the early 1990s, and jumped a firewall to engulf an older sanctuary built in the early 1970s.

The Memorial was founded in 1827 as Greenville Baptist Church with 23 charter members meeting in an academy. The church changed its name to “The Memorial,” according to its website, “to commemorate the founding of the Baptist State Convention in Greenville. The Convention celebrated its 175th anniversary with special services at The Memorial church in 2005.”