DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (BNC) by Robert Alexandre — Last night here at College Avenue we met for our regular Wednesday evening service at 7 p.m. Around 7:25 p.m., my wife Susan was teaching her class and started to smell smoke. She went next door to make sure the other teacher wasn’t burning a candle.

When my wife saw the other teacher did not have a candle lit, she asked me to check my office while removing the kids from the area. I had her call another man back there. She checked the storage room, and it was on fire. She grabbed the fire extinguisher and handed it to the man who came to help.

I called the police. When everyone had entered the building that evening they noticed nothing odd. When my family and I got there around 6 pm, we found nothing odd or out of the ordinary. We believe that sometime between 7:00 and 7:25 someone sneaked into our supply room and started the fire.

Fortunately the fire was small, and when my wife and the other brother found it, the fire had not yet spread to paint cans that were in this room nor to the carpet where it could easily spread. We are thankful to God that no major damages were sustained.

We also recognize that if we had been any later in recognizing the problem that this would not have been the case.

We got home at 11:30 p.m., after finishing the first part of the investigation. It is arson. It is considered a hate crime and because we were in service and thus occupying the building it is considered attempted murder.

The state investigator has taken our statements and we had to sign sworn affidavits. The ATF from Georgia was here overnight. The investigation is ongoing.

Please pray for our congregation as we seek to serve the Lord in the town of DeFuniak Springs.

Robert Alexander is the preacher working with the College Avenue congregation. The photo above depicts the congregation 2014 Vacation Bible School.



  1. I am so sorry that this has happened and know that it will continue to be a concern for you until the case is solved. Sin is in the world and we have to deal with it. I am happy that no one was hurt physically and that the damage was slight. May God continue to be with you. Your friend and brother, Donald R. Taylor

  2. So sorry! Our prayers are with the congregation there and with the people/person that would do such a horrible thing.

  3. An update to the above: This past Sunday morning one of our member’s cars was defaced with obscenties during our worship services.

  4. 1.Who had to leave there bible class at the approx “right”. time.

    2.Has leadership asked every one there that night “Did Anyone see any body anywhere out side of there bible class that night? (if so.. where and when?

    3. The authority that said
    “this was an Arson”, What did he say about what he found to determine
    started the fire ?

    4. When classes are over., do you have a policy of locking all your doors.? If so … Does all the teachers have a key to their class.
    Is there a secure log record noting who has what key.

    5. I don’t know your budget , I don’t know your circumstances, I suggest for this and like situations,,
    our congregation has had to change the locks on all the doors. We got a good security system with cameras.
    We also rotate all the willing men to parking lot security during services.

    6. if you have some one there who likes to play with fire, I would say you HAVE to do whatever it takes to stop this ASAP.. Thank you for letting me spout out. sincerely