Home Christian News Bishop Accused of Setting His Church on Fire Faces Decades in Prison

Bishop Accused of Setting His Church on Fire Faces Decades in Prison

Jonathan Mullins
Screengrab via WHAS 11

The bishop of a church in Louisville, Kentucky, has been arrested and charged with first-degree arson following an investigation into a fire at his church’s building. If convicted, Jonathan Mullins of Greater New Hope Community Church faces 20 to 50 years or life in prison. 

The fire took place on March 13, 2021, roughly a week before the building was set to be auctioned. It had been vacant for some time. 

The century-old building is historically significant, as it had previously housed Kentucky’s first synagogue. That congregation, Keneseth Israel Synagogue, has been meeting in another location since 1964.

Community members, including Rosalind Fishman, who attended synagogue at the building as a child, expressed shock after the fire in 2021. 

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“It was a real shock. It was like part of my heritage, as a kid growing up heritage, it was like oh my gosh,” Fishman told WHAS 11 at the time. “I’m very sad, yeah. It’s a sad thing.”

Only minutes after firefighters arrived on the scene, a part of the building’s roof collapsed and emergency personnel were evacuated. 

It took more than 70 firefighters and two hours to contain the fire, and one firefighter sustained a minor injury to the face. 

Authorities with the Louisville Metro Arson Bureau and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) immediately suspected foul play. No electricity was running to the building at the time the fire started. 

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“You think about things like lightning strikes, but we didn’t really have anything like that that evening, but that is stuff that they’ll review,” said Major Bobby Cooper with the Louisville Fire Department shortly after the fire.