Hundred-year old church saved from fire

The troubled waywardness and careless behaviour of a group of homeless people in the city have almost lead to the destruction of the Evangelistic Centre on Market Hill, St. George’s.

Two weeks ago the church was saved from fire that was started by one of the homeless men who was described as a vagrant.

Resident pastor of the church, Christopher Baker told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper that the fire was lit under the church building.

He said the church recently spent a lot of money to put in a studio to house Good News FM Radio 96.3.

The facility was also fitted with an air conditioned unit and equipment for the radio station

“We did at least $50,000.00 worth of work on that area there,” said Pastor Baker who added that with the current economic crisis facing the country, it will be extremely difficult for them to get back on their feet with a devastating fire.

The Pentecostal religious minister related a series of discomforts his church has had to undergo by vagrants over the past three years, which he said have been frustrating to members.

Pastor Baker said even if the gate is locked the vagrants will somehow make their way onto the church premises.

He said they would use the front and the side of the church close to the Maitland’s building as their washroom.

“Somebody will have to come early (on Sunday mornings) and make sure that the place is washed down,” he remarked.

According to Pastor Baker, the vagrants who are mainly men will take large quantities of the garbage in the town and carry them onto the steps of the church and leave them there.

He referred in particular to a male vagrant who often times sleep close to the church office and put the garbage on the side, which he would light afire on top of the wall.

He said during those encounters he called the Police on two occasions to report what was taking place, and on one instance he was informed by the lawmen that there is nothing they can do about it.

The Pastor’s frustration lead him to write then Commissioner of Police Willan Thompson to officially inform him about what has been happening, and the dangers that can come out of the men’s ruthless behaviour.

The Pentecostal religious figure said that one-week before the fire the entire plumbing system in the men’s toilet was destroyed by the vagrants who also tampered with the air condition units, which cost them a lot of money in repairs.

He said this caused a major flooding of the mall in the nearby Maitland building which cost the church dearly.

“This caused some headaches for the people down there as well as for us,” he added.

Pastor Baker described the recent fire as “the culmination of events with the vagrants who have invaded the grounds of the church.

The pastor said that as a Community of Believers they welcome anyone seeking refuge at the church facility, but at the same time no one should seek to disturb what they meet there.

“If somebody is homeless and they feel that they can get a night rest in a safe place or dry place under the church, under one of the buildings or even in the foyer we don’t mind that. But when it becomes a harassment and a hazard to us where they would use it as a toilet, where they would light fire it is just unacceptable,” he remarked.

Bishop Baker said he suspects that there are other people in St. George’s who are experiencing the same frustration with the vagrants.

He spoke of the vagrants becoming a danger to the normalcy of life in the Town, and is urging the authorities to find a suitable place to house them.

“I really do believe that the authorities need to look seriously at finding some home, some place where they can take these folks from off the streets from harassing people, from being a danger to society and put them in a safe place, safe for them and safe for the society,” he said.

Just last week Prime Minster Dr. Keith Mitchell announced that his seven-month old government will be looking at ways to address vagrancy in the Town in time for the start of the tourism season next month.


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