Arrests Bring Comfort to Alabama Churches

By: Renee' LaSalle
By: Renee' LaSalle

Three arrests in February's string of Alabama church fires bring a great sense of relief not only for the congregations whose churches were damaged or destroyed, but for the communities as well.

One month after the arson Galilee Baptist Church in Panola is still a pile of ashes and ruin. Pastor Bob Little says the arrests in last month's church fires finally puts an end to weeks of terror.

"It helps in the healing process of the people that have been hurt, especially in this rural area," said Little. "Now they can relax some, because of the terror and trauma we've been going through not knowing where the attackers may attack at another time or whatever."

That's part of the fear Sumter Co. Sheriff Johnny Hatter has been trying to calm in his community. He says there has been a sense of unrest and nervousness that he believes will finally be quieted.

"We've been working around the clock, watching everything suspicious," said Hatter. "If a leaf falls wrong, we've been checking it out."

Late Tuesday night 19-year-old Benjamin Nathan Moseley and 19-year-old Russell Lee Debusk were arrested in connection with the church fires. Early Wednesday a third party, 20-year-old Matthew Lee Cloyd was also arrested.

At Spring Valley Baptist Church the cleanup is well underway. Pastor Glenn Harris says the arrests will allow his congregation to move past the violence.

"I was praying for their capture for two reasons," said Harris. "Number one, that we could bring some closure as a church; and number two, that they would get a chance to get some help."

Both pastors say their congregations are praying for the young men who have been arrested in these crimes. They say they're hoping for the best outcome possible.

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