Monday, October 18, 2010

No Prior Threats Directed Against The LDS Chapel Burned In Mukilteo, Washington; Grace Lutheran Church Offers Use Of Their Facilities

Because of the recent controversy spawned by President Boyd K. Packer's talk "Cleansing The Inner Vessel", some people were undoubtedly concerned about the possibility that the chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mukilteo, Washington which burned to the ground on October 16th, 2010, may have been targeted by gay activists or their sympathizers. But those concerns were temporarily allayed on October 17th when Church officials disclosed that there had been no threats directed against the chapel.

Asked if there was any reason to think the church was deliberately targeted, Jeff Lee, President of the Church's Lynnwood Stake, said that was the first question fire investigators asked the bishops of the two wards assigned to the Mukilteo chapel. But neither bishop could think of anyone who had made threats against the church, Lee said. Thus the thinking is now that it could either have been an anti-religious lone-wolf arsonist targeting churches, or it could have been some high-school kids messing up, considering that the church is next door to Kamiak High School. Giving credence to the latter theory was the statement of a nearby resident who said she heard what sounded like fireworks just after midnight. So some kids could have been lighting fireworks, and one of them got up into the roof.

However, investigators also released more information on their findings. They now report that they found several suspicious cans behind the church entrance in the rear where the fire is believed to have started. KCPQ Channel 13 news video embedded below:

Meanwhile, church members refused to allow the fire to change their worship plans. The two wards totaling around 800 members showed up on schedule at an alternate LDS chapel in Everett, located at 110 50th Street Southwest near View Ridge Elementary School. That location is also home for two other Mormon wards, the Mukilteo Ward and the Everett 2nd Ward. This is further north than the other chapel I though would be used, which is at 9509 19th Ave SE, but the 50th Street chapel can better accommodate both displaced wards.

Members say it's only a building that burned; their community remains strong. Instead of focusing on the crime, Jeff Lee explains, they are concentrating on rebuilding. Church members are thankful no one was hurt and grateful for the gracious outpouring of kindness they've received from other churches, neighbors and city officials, Lee said. Grace Lutheran Church (LCMS) leaders offered use of their building, and their members prayed for the displaced LDS congregants during their Sunday services.

Contrary to previous reports, the Seattle Times is now reporting that according to Snohomish County property records, the 15,000 square foot chapel, which was built in 1989 on 2.21 acres, had a 2010 value of $3.3 million. The Everett Herald had reported a value of $1.6 million. A $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the fire is being offered by the Arson Alarm Foundation and the Washington Insurance Council. Tips may be reported by calling 1-800-55-ARSON.

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