Springfield church targeted by arson fire receives funding to help rebuild

A Springfield church that was targeted in a hate crime arson two years ago is now getting help to rebuild.
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 2:21 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – A Springfield church that was targeted in a hate crime arson two years ago is now getting help to rebuild.

“Hate crimes will not be tolerated here in the city of Springfield. The goodness will prevail and MLK leads that charge,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield has been closed for more than two years after the predominantly Black house of worship was set on fire in December 2020. A man from Maine, Dushko Vulchev, has been charged with a federal hate crime.

While the cost to rebuild is $2.5 million, Springfield city leaders announced Tuesday that $500,000 in funding they’ve received through the American Rescue Plan Act will help with the effort, which put a smile on the face of Reverend Dr. Terrlyn Curry Avery.

“I come from a place of gratitude always, so whatever moneys we get to rebuild this church, I’m extremely grateful,” Avery said.

Avery told Western Mass News that this funding would help continue making the church beautiful again, while future donations would help with furniture and other supplies, but she said there are other reasons why the effort has been non-stop to get the church back on its feet.

“We want to focus on mental health. We want to focus on our recovery programs. We want to focus on our educational programs. We cannot do it if the church is not built,” Avery explained.

Avery said $1,000,000 is still needed. For now, she’s thankful for the support and positive message it sends to the community.

“Scripture says, ‘What you meant for evil, God meant for good’ so for those people who are intent on being hateful, God can turn any situation around and make it great,” Avery added.

If all goes according to plan, Avery said the church should be open to the community by early 2024.

If you would like to send a donation to help the church, you can CLICK HERE for more information.