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Bishop Accused of Setting Fire to Historic Church Arrested for Arson

Jonathan Mullins faces 20 years to life if convicted

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The bishop of a church in Louisville, Kentucky has been arrested and charged with first-degree arson after allegedly setting his church’s building on fire three years ago.

Greater New Hope Community Church after the fire / Video screenshot via WHAS 11

Jonathan Mullins of Greater New Hope Community Church could face anywhere from 20 years to life if convicted.

The church building, which has stood for more than 100 years, is historically significant in the state of Kentucky. It was originally built to house the state’s first synagogue, Keneseth Israel Synagogue, which moved from the building in 1964.

The building, which was set ablaze in March 2021, was set to be auctioned off later that same week. Authorities say it had sat vacant for some time leading up to the fire.

It took more than 70 firefighters over two hours to control the fire, which was so widespread that crews were evacuated and had to fight the fire from the exterior only. The fire significantly damaged the structure of the building, leading to a partial collapse of its roof.

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Rosalind Fishman was a congregant at the original synagogue in the 1950s and 60s, before Keneseth Israel Synagogue moved to Taylorsville Road. She said her memories of the beautiful building are now stained by images of watching the historic building burn. Immediately after the fire she told WHAS 11, “It was a real shock, it was like part of my heritage, as a kid growing up heritage, it was like oh my gosh…It’s a sad thing.”

Immediately after the fire, both Louisville Metro Arson Bureau and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives suspected foul play. The building already had its power turned off, ruling out an electrical fire.

Major Bobby Cooper of Louisville Fire also took weather off the list of potential causes. “You think about things like lightning strikes, but we didn’t really have anything like that that evening,” he said.

Mullins is set to appear in court on March 18.

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Daniel Ritchie

Daniel Ritchie is an evangelist, speaker and author from Wake Forest, NC. He has spoken nationally and internationally to churches, colleges, seminaries, conferences and professional sports teams. He is the author of two books - My Affliction for His Glory & Endure. He is a husband to Heather and daddy of two children.