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Burned Opelousas church rises from the ashes

Burned church rises from the ashes
Posted at 8:17 PM, Nov 03, 2021

OPELOUSAS, L.a. — Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church — one of three predominantly black churches that were burned by an arsonist — is in the final stages of rebuilding.

This comes more than two years after the church was destroyed.

KATC spoke with members of the contracting team responsible for helping with Mt. Pleasant's rebuilding process Wednesday afternoon and managed to get permission from the pastor and general contractor to give viewers a sneak peek at how things are looking.

"Miracles happen and this is what happened to us," said the church's pastor, Reverend Gerald Toussaint.

The premises is still under construction, but the lights are on and the water is running already. All of this rebuilding is happening in the same area that the church stood in for 100 years before burning down more than two years ago when 23-year-old arsonist, Holden Matthews, set the church, and two other predominantly black churches, ablaze in what Matthews claimed was a hate crime against Christians, having nothing to do with race.

Toussaint said he and his congregation are excited to be in the final phases of what he considers "rising from the ashes" — noting that the church is set to reopen in January or February of 2022, taking COVID-19 precautions, as well as final safety measures into account.

"When you see the parking lot done, then we are almost finished," Toussaint said.

Toussaint noted that new things coming to the church besides a modern look and feel include new technology that will allow services to be live-streamed online — something he said they have never been able to do before.

KATC also spoke with Zack Stephens, an A/C technician and electrician with the contracting team on location Wednesday — Stephens Contracting Company out of Central Louisiana. He said he is happy to be a part of this project that they've been working on for the past several months.

"I'm fairly big into church myself you know and I couldn't imagine anything like this happening to my church, you know," Stephens said. "I can imagine how devastating it was for this church and the church family and the pastor himself, you know, but it's just an honor to be able to help the pastor."

Toussaint told KATC this rebuild cost a lot more than expected because of supply chain issues during the pandemic, but each of the three churches received about $860,000 dollars from an international GoFundMe back in 2019, the year the fires happened.

The reverend said he would like to thank everyone who has been a part of making this possible through donation and prayer — noting that his congregation will continue praying over the rebuilding process every Sunday.

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