Please read my first two posts on this little Civil War chapel which has not only been embroiled in controversy but now the target of arsonists.
Post #1: Background of problems begun by the Borough of Gettysburg which forced the chapel to close its doors the same day of its "Remembrance Day" of those who perished on the battlefield of Gettysburg.
Post #2: The devastating news last week that the chapel was burned to the ground and several other buildings immediately adjacent, including a coffee shop and Rescue/Mission Center were severely damaged with people displaced.
Federal authorities and the Borough of Gettysburg Police Dept. have confirmed what all of us had suspected: this small chapel built with love and remembrance of those few horrible days on the fields of the Gettysburg Battle was indeed the victim of arson. Here is a reminder picture of that horrible day in the early morning hours of December 3:
Chaplain John Wega, who erected the chapel in 2006, ironically in the same lot as a previous fire in 2004, is devastated not only because his hard work has "gone up in flames" but mostly because he, myself and many others fail to comprehend such a heinous act. Especially one against a place of worship.
Gettysburg at first attempted to kick God out of town. Then they burned him out of town.
No, this chapel did not have a "congregation," but it did hold Sunday Services from April til the end of November and was open 24/7 for anyone who wished to visit and reflect. Yes, the chapel was embroiled in some controversy. I am not going to rehash that in this post. You may read Post #1 noted at the beginning of this diary for the story.
Liberty Institute, the organization representing Chaplain Wega in his battle with the Borough of Gettysburg issued this press release today. Below are some excerpted remarks:
GETTYSBURG, Pennsylvania, December 7, 2010 – Four days after the Gettysburg Log Chapel, a reconstructed Civil War Chapel, burned to the ground, the Borough of Gettysburg has officially confirmed that the fire was caused by arson.
“We intend to rebuild what has become known as ‘America’s Chapel’ with the support of people of faith around the Nation and, hopefully, the cooperation of the Borough of Gettysburg,’” said Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute. “While tragic, we also pray that the events of the last several days will serve as a reminder of the love of Christ and power of faith in this Christmas season. We are confident that the authorities will find the responsible parties and bring them to justice.”
Chaplain Wega did have insurance on the chapel however that can in no way replace the sorrow he is feeling at this time. Three white teenage males seen near the chapel right before the fire are being sought for questioning.
And interestingly enough, my research has told me both Chaplain Wega and the coffee shop next door which was damaged are both on the list of businesses and organizations who oppose the building of a proposed casino 1/2 mile from the Gettysburg Battlefield. More on this to come..
The writer of this diary has a magnitude of anger and sorrow that is incomprehensible at this point. For someone to deliberately set a building ablaze, for reasons apparently unknown at this moment, endangering lives, destroying property and putting people in the hands of the Red Cross because they are homeless is devastating.
The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information about the Friday morning arson of the Civil War Chapel is asked to call Gettysburg Police at 334-1168.
Adams County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case. Tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers anonymously by calling 334-8057, texting CRIMES (274637) or visiting the website.
One can also visit the Save the Civil War Chapel website to make a donation. Liberty Institute, the organization representing Chaplain Wega, offers their services for Advancing Freedom at no charge and relies entirely on generous donations.
When these perpetrators are caught, and I have no doubt they will be, only God will be their judge.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19