Congregation gathers after church fire

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Dozens of people gathered at a historic Phoenix church on Sunday that was targeted by an arsonist. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Dozens of people gathered at a historic Phoenix church on Sunday that was targeted by an arsonist. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
It could take months to repair the damage. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) It could take months to repair the damage. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Marcellus Mais. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Marcellus Mais. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Dozens of people gathered at a historic Phoenix church on Sunday that was targeted by an arsonist.

There was so much damage from Friday's fire that the worshippers had to stay outside at the historic Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 20 S. Eighth St.

"I was married in this church, been going here since I was 14 years old so I just wanted to be with my church family," said Leroy Douglas the Third, a church attendee.

The congregation, which included Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, held a prayer gathering in the parking lot.

"Things happen for a reason. We don't know why. It's not for us to figure out. It's for us to trust God," Rev. Dr. Benjamin Thomas, Sr. said.

Hours after Friday's arson fire, Marcellus Mais came to the church and told police he set the fire, police said. He has been arrested but is not suspected of a hate crime.

[READ MORE: Arrest made after fire breaks out in lobby of historic Phoenix church]

"We still love. We even love that man that did this," Douglas said.

The church's security director said it could be months before the church can offer full services.

"We do know that prayer changes things. That's why we're together," Thomas said.

Back in 2010, the Phoenix City Council voted to approve Tanner as a designated historic landmark. The Chapel is one of the only 14 properties in Phoenix to receive landmark status.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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