PUNE, INDIA (November 29, 2011) – The fire that reduced St. Andrew’s Church to ashes destroyed historic bibles and other artifacts. Church leaders have alleged the fire was due to arson and not a short circuit as authorities have stated.
The 1,000-member congregation is the “flagship church” of the Hindustani Covenant Church. It is located next to the denomination headquarters, which was not damaged. Click here to read a previously published story.
According to a report in the Pune Mirror, early edition copies of the Urdu Bible were destroyed as well as other specially preserved books. Pastor Sachin Masih told the newspaper that services were conducted in Hindi and Urdu languages, which made the bibles important for their worship. The bibles dated to 1940, when missionaries first brought them to India.
Everything else in the church, including the altar and pews, was reduced to ashes. The cross that was mounted on the roof of the church entrance was the only item left intact.
The 150-year-old church burst into flames around 8 a.m. on Monday. One senior member said, “The church was closed and doors locked. The maid who cleaned the church early in the morning had left by 7 a.m. We fail to understand how the entire church was burned in a span of 40 minutes.”