Rusk Co. officials arrest man for church arson just days before Christmas

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RUSK COUNTY, Texas (KETK) Officials in Rusk County have arrested a man for a December church arson.

Paul W. Kennedy, 38, has been formally arraigned on an arson charge stemming from a December structure fire at athe Shell’s Temple Church of God in Christ.

On December 21, 2019, Rusk County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a church in Laneville fully engulfed in flames.

Kennedy was charged and is currently in the Rusk County jail with a $100,00 bond.

“One of the church members called me and told me the church was on fire,” said Pastor Battles.

The church has been standing for 88 years, and a fire is something no one imaged would happen in a place that holds such fond memories.

“Most of them can remember running in between the pews, on baby bottles, and all their life they have been to this church,” said Battles.

The fire burned for 20 minutes and in less than one hour, the church was left to ashes.

While many could take a side of anger at a situation like this, Pastor Battles was not upset, but grateful.

“I’m delighted to know that we have made such a mark to create such aggression from the enemy that all of those that preach the gospel have. It lets us know that we are doing something right,” said Battles.

According to the Laneville Volunteer Fire Department, the church had no insurance.

While not having insurance may be an obstacle for the church family, it is not something that will keep them from worship.

“We were singing before the fire, we’re going to be singing now. We were giving before the fire, we’re going to be giving now. The enemy has not changed what we do just where we do it,” said Battles.

While the building may be gone, the faith still stands.

“I told them, they burned the building, but they didn’t burn the church,” said Battles.

He has also been linked to a break-in at Laneville ISD. His bond for that charge is $25,000.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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