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(RNS) The Alaska evangelical church that former Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin calls home was severely damaged Friday (Dec. 12) by a fire that has been ruled suspicious by authorities.
“Our building was damaged by a fire, and will need repairs before we can resume worship there again,” Wasilla Bible Church announced on its Web site. “Praise God that no one in the building was injured, and pray for us as we rebuild.”
The congregation met on Sunday at a local middle school and plans to worship there “until further notice,” the church announced.
The Anchorage Daily News reported that Palin’s office issued a statement the day after the fire.
“Gov. Palin stopped by the church this morning, and she told an assistant pastor that she apologizes if the incident is in any way connected to the undeserved negative attention the church has received since she became a vice-presidential candidate on Aug. 29,” it said.
“Whatever the motives of the arsonist, the governor has faith in the scriptural passage that what was intended for evil will in some way be used for good.”
James Steele, chief of the Central Mat-Su Fire Department, said it was the biggest fire his department had handled this year, but did not immediately tie its suspicious origin to political motivation.
“We are definitely treating it as suspicious and as potential arson at this point,” he said. “Right now there’s no indication that we have that there’s any connection there. We just don’t have any leads at all as far as the intent or motive in this.”
He told the newspaper that the building, which is worth between $4 million and $5 million, sustained about $1 million in damage.
The Anchorage Daily News reported that Palin’s husband, Todd, and their children attended the service at the middle school but the governor did not because she was preparing to present next year’s state budget.
By Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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