TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Cleanup was underway at Saints Home Church of God in Christ on 13th Street in Terre Haute Monday.
That’s as officials say the church's van had been destroyed in a fire that investigators ruled arson. Pastor Mark Blade got the call about the fire just after midnight Monday.
Blade recalls, "We found out that the van exploded in a fireball, and people who reported it thought the church was on fire. But the van was engulfed in flames, and we’d only had it for three weeks. Fortunately the church wasn't heavily damaged. Some windows were blown out and some water damage inside from the fire but other than that we're very fortunate."
Assistant Pastor Curtis Mitchell also woke up to the news, feeling shocked. He shares what a fellow church member saw at the scene.
Mitchell says, "As he stood there watching the firefighters working he watched the flames and he said the flames were rising up from the van, but they seemed to be avoiding the actual church building as if the flames were being pulled away from the building. And, he seemed to think that it was the hand of God, and I have to agree with him."
Church leaders say they're blessed that there wasn't any damage to the sanctuary, and they'll be continuing services as early as Tuesday night.
Assistant Pastor Mitchell says, "Our church's motto, if you want to call it that, is “moving forward”. So, we're doing exactly that. Our mid-week service is here Tuesday evening and we will be here worshipping and praising God. What somebody meant for evil. It seems the Lord worked out for good."
As police look for a suspect, church leaders say they're trying to stay positive, and are hopeful that justice will be served.
Pastor Blade says, “It’s part of life, things happen. But I certainly hope that they apprehend the person who did it so they don't do it to somebody else."
Again, officials say the arson investigation is ongoing at this time. Anyone with information on this case is urged to call Crime Stoppers. That number is 812-238-STOP.