VIVIAN, LA (KSLA) - Church members say they forgive the man who set the Vivian United Pentacostal Church ablaze back in April.
That's in spite of the fact that investigators say 25-year-old William Sexton set the fire in the sanctuary of the church while a family of three slept in a nearby room.
No one was injured. Sexton, who is a former member of the church, was arrested Thursday in connection with the fire, having allegedly confessed. Authorities say he had been involved in an ongoing dispute with the pastor of the church.
"You do the crime, you gotta do the time," says Cheryl Florence, a 28-year member of the Pentecostal church. However, Florence says, "We wish him the best. We forgive him because that's what we're supposed to do. It's love," Florence says.
That love remains at Vivian United Pentecostal even though the once beautiful church is in ruins. The building has been gutted and cleared out.
When you first walk into the building, the first thing you notice is the smell. It still smells like a fire is still burning. That fire is long since out, but there's ash on the ground. And soot is everywhere.
Despite the recent setbacks from the fire, church worshippers believe the building will be back and better than ever.
"It's going to be bigger and better than it ever was, 'cause it's for God's glory," Florence says.
Florence says she hopes that church members can return to the old building for worship in about 6 months.