Delaware community gathers in prayer for man accused of burning church

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ByBob Brooks via WPVI logo
Friday, July 24, 2020
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A Delaware community gathered on Thursday night to pray for Thomas Loftis III who is accused of burning the Reach Church in Bear on Monday night.

BEAR, Delaware (WPVI) -- A Delaware community gathered on Thursday night to pray for a man accused of burning their church earlier this week.

It happened Monday night at the Reach Church in Bear.

Pastor Chuck Betters led a group in prayer saying, "Lord I pray for the individual who did this."

Jordan Schoenberger is a church elder and said, "We believe in redemption."

"The church is going to be forgiving," said Johnny Orejuela.

READ MORE: Fire at Reach Church in Bear, Delaware investigated as arson

Thomas Loftis III is accused of setting fire to the church. He is now being charged with arson and burglary.

The church suffered extensive smoke and water damage.

"Several pews were set on fire throughout the building. There was equipment thrown off the balcony. When we got here, they were drilling through the steeple to release the smoke," said Betters.

Members gathering on Thursday night prayed for healing and for Loftis.

Pat Gardner of Bear said, "I think the church is going to grow and be stronger."

Schoenberger said, "This is really special to see. This is our church, the people are our church. We're more than a building."

"We would absolutely forgive him and welcome him. He needs Jesus," said Betters.

Betters says they will be back in their sanctuary soon, vowing that it will be rebuilt.