Church destroyed by fire; man charged with arson

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EARLVILLE — The Lighthouse Community Church in southern Madison County was destroyed by a fire Wednesday night. Law enforcement officials said one person is in custody for arson.

State police said Brian C. Carver, 39, of Earlville, has been charged with third-degree arson. He was released on his own recognizance.

Fire officials said the alarm was raised at 10:32 p.m. for the South Main Street church, which sits on the border between Madison and Chenango counties. Earlville fire officials said eight volunteer departments assisted as they attempted to suppress the heavy fire load, but their efforts were in vain.

Fire officials said the church is a total loss. No one was injured.

“This is a sad day for the community, as the church is now without a location of congregation and the community has lost a place full of memories for many in the area,” Earlville fire officials posted on Facebook. They noted that the church was previously the Red Barn Roller Rink.

Fire officials remained on the scene clearing hot spots until about 5:45 a.m. Pastor Mark A. Monroe Jr. posted a video on the church’s Facebook page announcing the fire to his parishioners. “Love and forgiveness still win the day,” Monroe said in the video. He said efforts will be made to still recognize the upcoming Easter Sunday.

Monroe’s video added: “This is not the end, this is the beginning. Lighthouse will rise forth as the epicenter that we are called to be.”

“We will not be shaken by this,” he added.

The state police are investigating.

The Earlville, North Norwich, Sherburne, Smyrna, Hamilton, North Brookfield, Hubbardsville and Morrisville fire departments responded.

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