Santaquin LDS Church meetinghouse special to community

Published: Sunday, Dec. 18 2011 10:44 p.m. MST

LDS Church members in Santaquin work to clear out usable items Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011 from their church after an overnight fire that authorities have listed as arson.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SANTAQUIN, Utah County — A community is moving forward after an arson fire ripped through their LDS Church meetinghouse last week.

"We have a pretty close-knit community," said Mike Sorensen, bishop of one of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wards that regularly meet in the building.

On Sunday, the congregation attended services at another building in town.

Kay Tischner said the church building on the corner of 200 South and 100 East has special meaning to him.

"That was basically a fixture here in our community," said Tischner, a lifelong Santaquin resident. "A lot of great events have taken place there."

Tischner said he did volunteer work as young man to help renovate the building, which was originally built in 1941. In recent years, he had helped with maintenance of the building.

The church will have to go through another renovation after the fire Thursday that caused an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million in damage.

Following up on a tip, police arrested to juveniles — ages 16 and 17 — in connection with the fire.

"Because the town's small and people are close-knit, when they see something wrong, they tell us," said Santaquin police detective Stan Eggen.

Police say, the teens, who live in Santaquin, admitted to breaking into the church offices for money. They got away with $7.

The teens are now facing charges of aggravated arson, burglary and theft.

"They've interfered and devastated a lot of lives, done a lot of things that will take months and months to rebuild," Tischner said.

Bishop Sorensen says he feels for the families of the two young men who were arrested.

"It just encourages us to pray for those who have done this and to be forgiving," he said. "They're Heavenly Father's children too."

Email: syi@ksl.com

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