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Suspect wanted for setting a KC Lutheran church on fire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Members of the Our Redeemer Lutheran Church are doing their best to wash away the remnants of a bad memory.

"A young man came up, early 20`s, knocked on the door and asked for a coat or a jacket. I`ve done that many times, I escorted him downstairs," Senior Pastor Brad Zerkel said.

Pastor Zerkel said the man he was trying to help on Saturday night set fire to his church shortly after being told to leave when he began to take other items and made threats against the church and pastor.

"He left so I thought everything was ok, I left about 20 minutes later and it wasn`t long after that that he came back and lit the church using gasoline and some rags," Pastor Zerkel said.

The suspect had no other connection to the church. Pastor Zerkel said he burned a small door way outside of the church near the sanctuary.

"It`s very upsetting to think that someone would do this to a church in the first place and what motivates someone to do this, I haven`t the slightest idea," Ronald Humbird, a church trustee, said.

Humbird said the structural damage is not the most troubling.

"This is the second time that we`ve had a fire set here. The first time was an accident due to faulty wiring. But this time it was arson," he said.

In 2012, the church's sanctuary was destroyed by an electrical fire.

"Everything burned but the walls. The stained glass was so hot that it sucked the paint out of the glass," Pastor Zerkel said.

Only a few items survived but the scars remain.

"After the first fire, it took three years to repair that. We were getting comfortable again in our environment and we had this happen. People`s nerves are a little on edge," Pastor said.

The rebuild is underway and the church is hopeful the church will bounce back yet again.

"We just trust in the Lord`s word when he said 'He can work all things to good to those in Christ Jesus.' So we don`t know exactly what`s going to happen, we trust in him," Pastor Zerkel said.