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Rockingham Co. church to hold first service since arson on Easter Sunday

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STOKESDALE, N.C. -- Gideon Grove United Methodist Church will hold its first service on Easter Sunday since it was destroyed by arson.

Authorities said an arsonist destroyed the Gideon Grove United Methodist Church a few days before last Christmas. The church was one of two that was hit in Rockingham County by arson that weekend.

The service will be held in a tent instead of a church and the pews will be replaced by folding chairs.

“My message for tomorrow's service is new life that is rising out of the ashes and has risen out of the tomb,” said Pastor Wanda Lancaster. “Our whole services will be based on new life.”

Investigators said they have not made any arrests, but are not giving up. Lancaster said the church has moved on.

“I think everyone is excited that we are going to gather together on this place that has meant so much to us,” Lancaster said.

Easter service starts at 11 a.m. near the church's location at 2865 Gideon Grove Church Road in Stokesdale.