Cross burned down in front of Gastonia church

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A church that's been a pillar of west Gastonia since the 1900s is now at the center of a police investigation after their cross was set on fire Wednesday morning. 

“I can’t imagine why someone would think this is a thing to do,” Loray Baptist Church member Jean Moore said. 

Church members say a homeless man who prays daily on these steps saw the blaze and called 911. Moore said she fears the worst. 

“We have had some mumblings this could be race related. We have a revival in two weeks and a black pastor is coming to speak. We are thrilled about that and we would love to invite everybody in the community to come, but I would hope this day in time it is not race related.”

Now, the process of building a replacement cross is underway. Pastor Kent Cranford is still in disbelief about what happened. 

“It kind of makes you go numb really. You just don't know what was going on,” he said. 

With a church service still to take place this evening, those like Moore won't let the morning's vandalism take away from their vision. 

“We’re sad that it happened but it won't stop Loray from their mission you know there is other things to do if you want to drop down here we will help you out. If there is something you need or want to talk to someone we'll see if we can get you in touch with somebody.”