HomeWorldEdwards visits the church rebuilt after an arson attack in 2019

Edwards visits the church rebuilt after an arson attack in 2019

OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards touched on themes of gratitude, resilience and compassion during a tour of a church building that was rebuilt after being destroyed by an arsonist three years ago. .

Edwards visited Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in St. Landry Parish on Thursday, area media reported. Mt. Pleasant was one of three churches with predominantly black congregations burned down in 2019. The arsonist, Holden Matthews, was convicted of federal and state hate crimes, arson and other charges, and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

An online fundraising effort raised money to rebuild the churches.

Edwards said the rebuilding efforts brought the community together and encouraged.

“It’s also encouraging for me, when we came here in 2019, people were really down. They were just shocked,” Edwards said. “But they understood pretty quickly that the church is a building, but the church really is the people. And people didn’t go anywhere, they’re still here.”

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Edwards also took a sympathetic tone when talking about Matthews.

“We need to pray for the arsonist because he was obviously wrong,” Edwards said. “The idea that he would burn down churches, places of worship and deprive all those parishioners of their churches just to try to impress people on the Internet, shows how lost that individual was.”

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