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MailTribune.com
  • A Cross to Bear

    Zion Lutheran Church comes to grips with emotions after arsonists' deeds
  • A charred wooden cross in front of Zion Lutheran Church on Fourth Street has become a symbol of the resolve of a congregation shaken by an arson fire Friday.
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      To make arrangements for a donation to help the rebuilding of the Zion Lutheran Church, call 541-772-4674.
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      How to help
      To make arrangements for a donation to help the rebuilding of the Zion Lutheran Church, call 541-772-4674.
  • A charred wooden cross in front of Zion Lutheran Church on Fourth Street has become a symbol of the resolve of a congregation shaken by an arson fire Friday.
    "The old, rugged cross still stands, and with God's mercy we will move forward," said Diane Lewis, a 62-year-old who attended Sunday service.
    Almost 50 church members gathered in a meeting room adjoining the church, the odor of the burned building next door still lingering in the air.
    Medford fire crews responded before 2 a.m. Friday to the fire that started when two males threw something similar to a Molotov cocktail at the cross in front of the church, according to witnesses.
    The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating the case because setting fire to a church can be prosecuted as a federal crime.
    Pastor Cyril Hunkler said it's important that the church respond with forgiveness in the face of an act of violence.
    He said feelings are running high, noting that one church member asked, "After I forgive them, can I hurt them?"
    Hunkler said the community will be watching to see how the church responds to this crisis.
    "We need to pray for whoever did this," he said. "It's very important to forgive as Jesus did."
    Hunkler said he's received an outpouring of support from other churches in the area.
    The church choir sang a hymn thanking God and showing the congregation's continued faith.
    "Even after the terrible event the other day, we're still thankful," Hunkler said.
    Wayne Bennett, an 83-year-old member of the congregation since 1956, said, "I think it's a blessing in disguise."
    The church will likely get a new roof, new paint and new carpet in the interior. The new roof alone could cost $100,000 because the shingles have asbestos in them, Bennett estimated.
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