DOUGLAS, Ariz. (KGUN) Despite all the damage from the arson of two historic churches theres hope for both to recover.

The scenes at First Presbyterian Church and Saint Stephens Episcopal Church are depressing a hundred years of history, life, death, grief and joy is charred and collapsed but you have to remember: Churches are built on a foundation of hope.

First Presbyterian Pastor Peggy Christiansen says she draws hope from the help and hard work of the city of Douglas, investigators, insurance adjusters, and fire recovery expertsplus the support pouring in from the broader church community across the country.

She believes in some ways, the destruction will lead to some good.

I don’t think God caused this incident to happen,” Christiansen says. “This was the result of one individual’s rage and hatred. But we stand for love. And this is a chance to demonstrate that to the community, to the country.

A few blocks from the churches, the fire and its impact on Douglas is a main topic at El Chef restaurant. Fernando Betancourt hears it as the restaurant proprietorand as the pastor of another church across town.

He sees the determination to bounce back as a measure of faith.

And that’s I think that’s what our community is all about. Because, I mean, we’ve faced so many things and and throughout the years and throughout the history of Douglas, and we’ve always been able to bounce back stronger than ever,” Betancourt says. “So that’s what faith is all about.

At First Presbyterian, KGUN 9 reporter Craig Smith asked Christiansen about the man charged with burning her church:

If somehow I could stand that suspect in front of you right now. What do you think you’d say? Christiansen: Honestly, I would say I am so sad that you did this. And I hope that whatever is motivating your destructive actions could somehow be healed.


Douglas community expresses shock in wake of church fires Fire burns two historic churches in Douglas First Presbyterian Church engulfed in flames, resulting in structural damage