Alleged arson reminder of Nashville church mission • Bibical Recorder

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Although the structure is unharmed, the Axis Church lost all of its furniture and equipment due to smoke damage when a Molotov cocktail was thrown through a window.

An investigation is underway into a fire last week at The Axis Church in Germantown, a neighborhood in Nashville. The fire was caused by a Molotov cocktail thrown through a window before September 13.

Local media reports say firefighters arrived at the church around 2 a.m. on Tuesday, put out a small fire inside the building and cleared the smoke.

Jeremy rose.

Officials told Rose firefighters saw a crack in the front window before smashing it to put out the blaze. A link was not initially made between the shattered window and the fire until Rose looked at the church lobby camera surveillance footage that showed the Molotov cocktail thrown through the window at 10:28 p.m. Monday evening .

Upon seeing the video, Rose said he immediately contacted ATF officials, who showed up at the building within minutes, and things became “like a scene from CSI.”

Because the act was committed against a place of worship, the law classifies it as an act of terrorism and a federal crime. But Rose said the congregation chooses to see it differently.

“We don’t receive it as an attack, we receive it as a gift,” he said. “It is a gift from the Lord to remind us of our mission to find out why we are in downtown Nashville, and it affirms that we are in the right place. The church exists because this stuff exists. This clarifies the need for the church’s mission in these kinds of communities.

Rose and her family planted the Axis Church near downtown Nashville almost 12 years ago. They chose the location of the church precisely because it was considered a dangerous area at the time, and they wanted to be a light in the community.

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The law calls the burning of the Axis Church an act of terrorism and a federal crime.

Despite the community dynamic that has changed somewhat over the years, Rose said the mission of the church remains and this difficult time serves as a reminder of that mission.

“I told my staff before I spoke with the media, this is proof that we are needed here,” Rose said. “I don’t see it as persecution, and I don’t see it as victims. We’re going to have problems in this lifetime, so these things should never surprise us.

“In light of this, we are reminded of our purpose, our mission and the need for us to be here. … I have never been so excited as I am now in the life of our church. I’m super excited for what God is doing in this situation.

Regarding the unidentified person responsible for the crime, Rose said the gospel enables church members to respond with grace.

“Our message to this attacker is, ‘Don’t come through the window, come through the door,” he said. “Don’t feel like you have to smash the window to get in.”

Rose added that whoever set the fire “might be one of our next alumni or someone leading our women’s ministry, who knows.”

“We all react in different ways carrying the struggle and the burden of life,” he said. “That’s the way this person responded. … I encouraged my people to see that this guy is not that different from us. It has been wonderful to see our people react with an evangelical shadow and an evangelical reflex through the situation. “

The fire did not damage the structure of the building, but the smoke damage destroyed just about all the church furniture and equipment inside the building.

The church still expects to meet this Sunday for a service, but will not have an audio system and people can bring their own chairs or stand.

Despite the limitations, Rose said it would be an important time for the church body to commune together, sing together, share the gospel, and share fellowship.

“It will be healing and a strength to be together,” he said. “The important thing is that we are together after something like this. I think just having the service will unite in a really deep way.

Below, surveillance footage of the Axis Church lobby shows what appears to be a Molotov cocktail thrown through a window.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Timothy Cockes is an editor at Baptist Press.)

Charles K. Eckert