Black Churches | St. Louis Public Radio

Black Churches

The choir of United Believers in Christ Ministries opened the first service at the church's new building on Sunday with several worship songs.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

The yellow house at 8820 North Broadway in St. Louis looks like most of the others on the block, but the worship music wafting out onto the sidewalk signals this is the new home of United Believers in Christ Ministries

David Lopez Jackson has been charged with two of the seven October church arsons
Provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department

A 35-year-old St. Louis man has been arrested in connection with two church arsons that put St. Louis and parts of north St. Louis County on high alert in October.

David Lopez Jackson is being held on a $75,000 cash-only bond. He was arrested on Thursday and officially charged on Friday with two counts of second-degree arson for the fires that damaged the New Life Missionary Baptist and Ebenezer Lutheran churches. He is considered a suspect in the other five. 

Pastor David Triggs (center) leads the New Life Missionary Baptist Church (soon to be United Believers in Christ Ministries) in prayer outside their burned building on Sunday.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Sunday service was a bit different this week at New Life Missionary Baptist Church in north St. Louis: it was held out on the lawn.

That's because the church building at Plover Avenue and Bircher Boulevard sustained significant damage following a fire on Oct. 17, one of a string of arsons against predominantly black churches in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County. 

Updated 9 a.m., Oct. 22 -  Overnight, officials confirmed a seventh church fire at the rectory for the Shrine of St. Joseph in the Columbus Square neighborhood, just west of downtown. The St. Louis Fire Department was able to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher. The double wooden doors to the rectory suffered some damage. No one was injured.

The fire at New Life Missionary Baptist also damaged the siding.
Peter Armstrong | Christ Church Cathedral

The St. Louis Regional Bomb Unit and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating what they describe as a series of six arsons at predominately black churches in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County.

The latest, Ebenezer Lutheran Church at 1011 Theobald St., in the Baden neighborhood of St. Louis, was damaged sometime between 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m Sunday. The buildings have all been empty at the times of the fires, which began when the arsonist lit exterior doors on fire.

Karen Anderson and Mike Kinman
Alex Heuer

In the weeks following the shooting incident in Charleston where nine black churchgoers were killed, several predominately black churches have succumbed to fire. In response to the fires, congregations across the nation have collaborated in the “Rebuild the Churches Fund.” Led by Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, the group’s goal is to raise $250,000, which will be divided among four churches. Currently, the group is over halfway to its goal.