First United Methodist Church in Morton rebuilds two years after arson

First United Methodist Church in Morton rebuilds two years after arson

MORTON, TX (KCBD) - The grand-opening of the First United Methodist Church in Morton Sunday morning drew more than 100 community members and visitors from across the South Plains to see a building that rose from ashes.

They started the building about 20 months ago, when an arsonist set their building on fire on December 1, 2013. Aaron Trinidad was 20-years when he was arrested, sentenced to 15 years in prison for the crime.

READ MORE: http://www.kcbd.com/story/28813816/morton-man-pleads-guilty-to-setting-church-on-fire

"We had a very troubled young man that came, and for some unknown reason broke into the church and went into one of the kitchen windows, busted it out and went inside," said Tom Newton, chairman of the UMC Board of Trustees, "and for unknown reasons, decided to set the place on fire."

Nothing was left inside the church, where the Newtons have attended since the 1980s.

"When we got our notification, or found out, it was burning," Tom said. "We came to the scene and we stood across the street in the yard of the parsonage and watched it burn."

It all took place on a Sunday morning, which left much of the congregation watching the scene in alarm.  

"You could just hear the pews crackling and popping and as it was burning," Tom's wife, Carolyn Newton said, "and you were just totally helpless. You wanted to run in and get something out but you couldn't, and it's just such a empty feeling of where do we go from here? What do we do?"

The new church building required insurance and donations to be rebuilt in the same lot. It could not be as big as the last church, but it is more updated.

"The old one is gone, and this is it…and it's home," said church member Connie Baker. "It's the best feeling in the world."

The time without pews may have challenged their faith, but strength was regained with this reunion.

"God became more important to me than any other time in my ministry," pastor Lyndall Flether said. "From what I get from my congregation, we're going to be around for a while."

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