*Charred pages from hymn books nestle in the grass around the burned shell of what once was the century-old Branches United Methodist Mission in Florida City.

Fire investigators now suspect arson in the devastating early morning blaze on May 24 — Pentecost Sunday — that destroyed the church sanctuary and adjacent playground.

But the emotional toll on visitors’ faces — even as everyone vowed to rebuild — tells the real story.

Eddie Velez, 25, doesn’t look like a man who cries, but on this day, as the smell of burned wood and brush still permeates the air, he has to catch himself.

“It’s sad to walk by and see this,” he says, clutching a scrap of burned paper. “I’m so used to see this as a happy place — the kids here playing. It’s tough. Give me a second.”

Read the full article here