$10,000 reward for information on church arson

A $10,000 reward is being offered in an arson that severely damaged an east Charlotte Church Monday – displacing its congregation and numerous community services.

Someone shattered a door to break into the Central United Methodist Church and set a fire in an office next to the pastor's study, said George Thompson, a church superintendant.

The study and all of Pastor Angela Pleasants' records were destroyed.

Someone walking by called 911 about 6 a.m. as flames ripped through the front of the brick building at 6030 Albemarle Road. Firefighters, who arrived in about four minutes, contained the fire mostly to the church's administrative offices, but much of the church was damaged by smoke, Fire Capt. Rob Brisley said.

He declined to give details about evidence collected at the scene. And investigators late Monday they were still trying to determine a motive. There have been several break-ins and thefts at the church, officials said, but those police reports were not available.

On Monday night, church members gathered on the front lawn to pray.

The church is home to several faith-based organizations, including Mi Casa Su Casa, a private non-profit that serves the Hispanic/Latino community with referral services and wellness programs. The organization as well as the church spent much of Monday relocating their offices, Brisley said.

“We do so much for the community. So many people use our facilities,” Pleasants told NewsChannel36, the Observer's news partner. “… my biggest concern now is trying to find places for these people to meet.”

Damage to the church is estimated at $500,000. Officials are expected to announce temporary relocation plans today.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or contact the N.C. Arson Awareness Council, 800-334-3000.