BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KMOV.com) – Officials are investigating a possible arson at Metro East Church.
The fire broke at New Gate Church in the 100 block of North 47th Street in Belleville just before 7:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Police say officers found the bottom portion of the church’s glass doors broken and a doormat on fire. An officer put it out with a fire extinguisher.
There is no evidence that anything was thrown into the church to start the fire.
"I believe it's malicious intent," Pastor Precious Ewuzie said. "Could be anything. Could be religious issues. Any number of things. We don't know."
Ewuzie said the recently located to North 47th Street and Sunday was supposed to be their first service.
Police are looking for an adult black male with a beard, who was wearing a tan coat and blue hat. He was spotted in the area for several hours before the fire broke out.
"We might be delayed but we're not denied. This is just a delay," Ewuzie's wife, Caroline said. "[It's] gonna take us a little bit longer and of course we're gonna need help, need support."
A fundraiser will be held at the Assemblies of God's Church in Florissant will be held March 15 to help with recovery cost. The event will be begin at 5 p.m.
For those who can't attend, a GoFundMe page has been created to help the church recover.
Anyone with information on the fire is asked to call Belleville police at 618-234-1212.