Pastor Charged With Setting Church Fire

AP, May 3

SUMMERVILLE, S.C.—A pastor and his wife have been charged with arson in a fire that gutted their church last week, authorities said Tuesday.

The Monday arrests of The Rev. Harold Hunter and Patricia Hunter came just one day after the pastor gave a sermon in which he said he prayed for the “sick, sadistic” person who burned down the church. No one was hurt in the blaze.

Police would not discuss a possible motive, but said they had suspected that Thursday’s fire and three earlier acts of vandalism at the 64-year-old Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church were an inside job.

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Hunter, 55, who had been pastor for three years, had dreams of building a new church but no solid plans, said Ruthmae Whitney, a member of the church for 40 years.

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