“I just couldn’t believe it had burnt down because I had been working on it and working on it,” says Pastor Freeman Simmons.
At 82-years-old Pastor Simmons is being tested. The church he’s watched over for 30 years was torched Wednesday night. Light of the World Church has stood off Indian Village Road in Slidell for 127 years, since 1886.
“The church is the place to come and serve and try to get help,” says Pastor Simmons, “I just hope the Lord will turn them. Only God can turn their hearts.”
Neighbor David Gilmore says, “When I saw the pastor this morning I was upset, angry; and then they got us too!”
The St. Tammany Fire Chief says arson is to blame. He says the arsonist or arsonists also torched goods in a nearby tent, plus the inside of a barn, and a truck not far away.
Pastor Simmons was in the process of restoring the church that had been vacant since Hurricane Katrina. He planned to reopen next year. Now he says he’ll start to rebuild soon, and let God take care of whoever is responsible.
“The revenge is his, you know, not mine. At the end it’s God. This is his house and I’m his servant. He never sleeps, he never slumbers, so give it over to him,” says Pastor Simmons.
So far there are no suspects.
Pastor Simmons says he’s invested about $100,000 into renovations and is now hoping the community makes more donations to help with this added expense. He says the 127-year-old church was not insured.
If you’d like to donate you can mail checks to:
Bishop Freeman Simmons
P.O. Box 1213
Slidell, LA 70459
Make checks payable to: Light of the World Church Building Fund