Stony Plain Alliance Church has offered “forgiveness” towards a 12-year-old boy charged with arson in connection with a fire that destroyed the church’s family centre on Dec. 18, 2016.
RCMP said no one was injured in the blaze. However, it took firefighters hours to put out the flames and neighbouring homes were evacuated as a precaution.
The building housed a library, nursery, youth group as well as the church offices. Deputy Fire Chief Bert Lubbers said the building was destroyed.
Since the fire, Mounties and investigators with the Stony Plain Fire Department have been working together to determine the cause.
On Wednesday, a youth from the Stony Plain area was charged with arson.
He’s set to appear in court “in the near future,” RCMP said in a news release Friday.
“His name or further details will not be released.”
Stony Plain Alliance Church issued a statement about the fire Friday afternoon in which it called the fire “heartbreaking” and also said it was “saddened to learn that a minor has been charged with arson in relation to the fire.”
“We also recognize that this individual and their family have been deeply affected by this,” the statement read in part. “Our posture is one of grace and forgiveness toward this individual. As well it’s our desire to be part of the process of healing for the family, for our congregation and for the community at large.”
The church also thanked firefighters who fought the blaze and members of the community who helped in various ways.
The church said until it finds a new permanent meeting space, its 1,200-person congregation would begin meeting at the Living Waters Christian Academy in Spruce Grove as of Feb. 5.
The congregation will meet on Sundays for a 10 a.m. worship service along with a children’s program from nursery to Grade 6. Meanwhile, its youth group will continue to meet Wednesday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Lutheran School until “a more suitable space can be found.”
“While this is a tragic event we believe that the future of our church is hopeful and filled with new opportunities,” the church’s statement said. “We want to continue to serve our community and be part of its future.”
The church said it has been a part of the community since 1939 .