Indy church catches fire two weeks after their assistant pastor was murdered

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A church congregation is dealing with tragedy for the second time this month.

On Wednesday night, a fire destroyed the small church in the 1400 block of Kappes Street on Indy’s near southwest side.

Firefighters estimate a hundred thousand dollars in damage was done to the church, but that is not the biggest tragedy the congregation has dealt with in recent weeks.

Two weeks ago, one of the church’s pastors was murdered.

Less than 3 hours after a Wednesday night service wrapped up, a fire broke out at the church.

“I’m just in shock,” said church pastor Gary Mann.  “We’re trying to pick up the pieces.”

Pastor Gary Mann says in addition to the structural damage seen on the outside, the fire burned several boxes of Christmas gifts and food that church leaders planned to hand out this Sunday to families in need.

“I don’t know where we’re going to go from here, but we will rebuild somehow someway,” said church member Shanon Singer-Mann.

The fire comes just two weeks after the murder of 41-year-old Christopher Smith at a bachelor party at Jake’s Pub on Indy’s south side.

Smith served at the church as an assistant pastor.

“It still just kind of doesn’t seem real,” said Singer-Mann during an interview following the killing.  “We’re all devastated.  It’s hard to pick up the pieces and move on without him.”

“They say the Lord will only put so much on you that you can handle.  I think we’re right there.  I don’t think we can handle much more,” said Gary Mann.

While their church may be temporarily damaged, Gary and Shanon say they’re relying on their faith to stay strong.

“I mean I’m just devastated and heartbroken.  We haven’t gotten over losing Chris.  We can say everything happens for a reason.  I still believe that.  I just don’t know the reason right now,” said Singer-Mann.

The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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