MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Music will still be played at a north Minneapolis church despite losing its most important instrument to arson.

The piano inside Community Covenant Church was the first thing to be set on fire in a rash of arsons Thursday night. In all, nine fires were reported within an hour. They all happened within a mile of the church, located at 901 Humboldt Avenue North.

Pastor Luke Swanson has been leading worship at the church for 10 years.

“For 65 years, we’ve been singing a song here in north Minneapolis,” Swanson said.

A charred piano has interrupted the song of the church, known for its outreach on the north side and for showing kids a better way.

“We try to bring them here and teach them there’s goodness in the world, and then for this has to happen it’s sad. It’s really sad,” said Pearly Collins, a church member.

The destruction began at 11:45 p.m. Thursday with a broken window. Once the vandals were inside, they set fire to the piano and left smoke damage all across the sanctuary. Within a half hour, they were outside again setting fires at eight other places within a mile of the church, doing damage to dumpsters, a car and a fence.

Sgt. Sean McKenna with the Minneapolis Arson Squad is looking for answers.

“More often than not arsonists are people who come and go on foot. So, I am thinking whoever set this fire is within walking distance of this building,” he said.

There were also two words spray-painted on a building outside the church that could make this a hate crime.

“It wasn’t a nice crime,” Swanson said. “It was certainly a crime by someone full of hate.”

The fire did about $12,000 in damage to Community Covenant but the church is vowing to press on.

“The church is not a building. The church is a people,” Swanson said.

If you know anything about the arsons, called the Minneapolis Arson Squad at (612) 673-3070.

Liz Collin


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