Remembering Northeast Texas Church Arsons through Film


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While the New Year invokes thoughts of new beginnings for most of the world, Northeast Texans can’t help but remember when many of their places of worship went down in flames and now that reflection is captured on film.

The documentary “Little Hope Was Arson” takes the audience back to 2010 with a look at the largest East Texas criminal investigation in history. The film serves as a story of heartache, resilience, and forgiveness.

January 1, 2010, Little Hope Baptist Church in Canton was the first to fall victim of arson by the hands of Jason Bourque of Lindale and Daniel McAllister of Ben Wheeler. Little did East Texans know that Little Hope would be the first in a string of 10 church burnings.

Faith Church in Athens burned that same New Year’s Day when tragedy struck Canton. A week later, two more Athens churches suffered the same fate.

Just getting started, Borque and McAllister took to two Tyler churches in the middle of the month.

After weeks of loss, communities rallied together and all eyes were on Texas – including “Little Hope Was Arson” Hollywood director Theo Love.

Explaining his reasoning behind the film, Love states “When we heard about the devastating string of church arsons, we knew that the people of East Texas needed a chance to tell their story
first-hand.”

Bourque and McAllister went on to burn Fellowship of Prairie Creek in Lindale, Russell Memorial United Methodist Church of Wills Point, Dover Baptist just outside of Lindale and Clear Spring Missionary Baptist Church near the Smith-Van Zandt county line.

The case drew nearer to a close when local law enforcement, the ATF and FBI turned their eyes back to the Canton fire, which had not yet been ruled as arson. It was when a surveillance video at a local store caught a young man walking into the restroom that drew investigators to the piece to the puzzle they were looking for. “Little Hope was Arson” was etched into a bathroom stall door.

At tip to investigators ended up securing the arrests of 19-year-old Bourque and 21-year-old McAllister. Both men are now serving multiple life sentences.

With communities banding together and rebuilding their places of worship, leaving many congregations stronger than ever before, the world can now see through “Little Hope Was Arson” the pain and forgiveness it took to get here. As for the film’s director, he got to witness first-hand what the East Texas community is all about.

“After several trips to Texas and gallons of sweet tea were shared, we started to bond with the investigators, church members, and even the arsonists’ families,” Love said. “When the time came to turn on the cameras and hear their stories, I was so inspired by their courageous honesty and vulnerability.”

No matter the viewer’s religious background, the film is sure to captivate the audience’s attention with the clear integrity, creativity, and excellent filmmaking that it offers.

“We tried to keep the story moving in a way that feels like a crime thriller while peppering in questions about the nature of church,” Love said.

“Little Hope Was Arson” has already received praise in the form of awards and from critics.

“After touring around the country at film festivals for over a year, we have seen this film connect with both secular and Christian audiences,” Love said. “Pastors have begged to show it in their churches and even the harshest critics have been incredibly gracious in their praise.”

For East Texans looking to view the documentary, The Old Firehouse in Edom is hosting a showing at 7 p.m. January 10 at 7 p.m. and the $8 tickets can be purchased at the door. The film is also available on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, and On Demand.

For more information on “Little Hope Was Arson” visit LittleHopeWasArson.com. 

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