Arsonist sought after East Flatbush church burns to ground

EAST FLATBUSH, N.Y. (WABC) -- The congregation at Byways and Hedges Church may have lost its house of worship, but it has not lost its faith.

"We just need a good location. The vigil is still here and we have the passion to go," said its leader, the Rev. Terry Lee.

Burned out of his spiritual home, Lee has sifted through the charred memories of his church. Someone, the pastor said, tried to steal equipment used for the church's radio ministry, and then set fire to the inside of the church. The culprit made a pile of items in the East Flatbush building, then apparently lit them Tuesday night.

Lee's work here in the Brooklyn neighborhood has been well known for two decades and includes immigration activism, youth outreach, food and clothing assistance, and counseling.

While he was out fighting crime and preventing crime, someone appears to have been here carrying out a crime of arson," said Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president.

Lee pledges that the work will continue, and clergy from other faiths in Brooklyn have promised to help in any way they can to find the church another home.

"He's on the subway. He's on the street. He's everywhere serving this community and it is now time ... for the community to serve him," said the Rev. Orlando Findlayter, of Brooklyn's New Hope Christian Fellowship Church.

The church is also asking the community to step forward if someone has information about the arson.

"I am writing a personal check for $5,000 to anyone who comes up with information to find out who is responsible for what happened here," said Adams.

Known for taking his ministry to the streets of East Flatbush and other Brooklyn neighborhoods, Lee vows to continue to preach on Sunday.

"We will put up a tent," he said. "We will have church."
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