A landmark church that has been part of the Whitney, Texas community for around 150 years has gone up in flames. KWTX is reporting that officials are still investigating the cause of the fire at Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, and have reason to believe it may have been set on purpose.

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The church is considered a historic site, and has between 40 to 50 members. The historical marker at the church reads:

Among the first African-American Baptist congregations in Hill County were the churches at Towash (organized in 1869), Lofer's Bend, and near Aquilla. These three congregations were united in 1883 to form the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church. Pleasant Hill's original building was demolished and the cornerstone laid for a new structure in 1894. Church trustees purchased the church lot from Dr. D. R. Wallace of Waco in 1901. The congregation had grown to about 100 members by 1907. More than 100 years later the members carry on the traditions of worship and community instilled by the early Pleasant Hill congregation.

-Pleasant Hill Historical Marker

Cause of Pleasant Hill Church Fire

The fire happened around 10:30 Sunday night. According to KWKT, FOX 44, Whitney newspaper The Lakelander spoke to Pastor Shane Metcalf and church members, who say the fire started along the front wall of the church. No cause of the fire has been released, but officials say it appears suspicious.

The Whitney Police Department along with the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Bureau (ATF) and the Hill County Sheriff’s Office are currently investigating what started the fire.

How You Can Help

Once investigators determine how the fire started, Pastor Shane Metcalf says they will tear down the church and rebuild. The company Bloom Wild is selling key chains, with all proceeds going to help the church.

The church has also set up an account for donations at Citizens State Bank, asking that no donations be made through GoFundMe accounts or cash apps. Everything to benefit Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church will go through the bank, according to KWTX.

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