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Bend church members view arson damage

By Kim Tobin
Published On: Mar 08 2013 08:54:59 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 08 2013 08:55:20 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kim Tobin spoke with Trinity Episcopal Church members, as they saw the damage caused by an arsonist.

BEND, Ore. -

Trinity Episcopal church was heavily damaged in a string of arson fires set in Bend early Wednesday morning, and church members got to see the damage left behindĀ  for the first time Friday.

"The outside is bad enough, but when you go inside, that's where the family lives," said the Rev. Roy Green. "So that's where you feel the hurt and the loss."

After two days staring at their beloved church from behind a chain-link fence, church leaders were led inside to see the destruction.

"You can't really prepare yourself for what you're about to see," said Youth and Neighborhood Director Donna Jacobsen. "And we didn't really expect damage in this part of the building, because you can't see anything from the outside."

The original part of the church that's been there since 1929 was scorched the worst. The sacristy, a small chapel, nursery and library were destroyed.

"They think that the fire was started in the basement, and went up through the heating elements into the attic," Green said. "It sort of shot right up and got really serious. So when the roof is gone, you kind of lose it all."

The area used by the Family Kitchen was barely touched by the flames, but the sanctuary sustained major damage.

However, several important items were recovered from the church, including a cross, hand stitched kneeling pads, linens, banners and music sheets for the choir.

The choir will be performing at their Sunday service, which will now be held at First United Methodist Church at 9 a.m.

"When the community has been reaching out to us so much in the last few days, you bring the whole community of Bend when you walk in there," Jacobsen said.

Leaders describe the church as a home. And although it's a sad sight to see right now, they say it's the family who makes the house a home.

"The church is the body of Christ, and it's the people of Trinity that matter," Green said. "These things are important to us, but the strength and the compassion of the family will stay the same."

Police are looking for the arsonist who started the seven fires. A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered to anyone who has information that leads to an arrest. If you know anything that might help, call police at 541-693-6911.

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