A 20-year-old Lynn Lake resident, Ivan Robin Ballantyne-Sewap, has been charged with arson in the St. Simon's Anglican Church $200,000 fire June 18, Const. Miles Hiebert, an RCMP "D" Division media relations spokesperson in Winnipeg, said June 20.
Ballantyne-Sewap remains in custody and was to appear in provincial court in Thompson June 21. He is also charged with break enter and commit arson.
Local emergency services and the RCMP were dispatched to the fire at approximately 4 a.m. on June 18. When they arrived they found the church fully engulfed in flames.
The structure could not be saved and damage is estimated at more than $200,000.
Rev. Leslie-Elizabeth King, minister of St. John's United Church and Advent Lutheran Church in Thompson, is also the pastor of St. Simon's Church, a shared ecumenical ministry of the United and Anglican Churches. King has been travelling to St. Simon six times a year since 1998 to administer the sacraments.
"All that was saved from the church is the bell," King said in an e-mail June 18.
The vacation bible school that is run by the Lutheran Association of Missionary Pilots (LAMP) will be going ahead, she said. "The Roman Catholic congregation (St. Maria Goretti, a mission of St. Lawrence Church parish in Thompson) has offered the use of their newly renovated basement for that. The Continental Mission has offered the use of the Gospel Church for Sunday worship," said King.
"There is a lot of work ahead for this small congregation and a lot of decisions to be made, but if I know one thing about Lynn Lakers, it is that work does not daunt them," King said. "They do a lot to help in the town and they will continue to do so, by the grace of God."
Lynn Lake RCMP were also to dispatched to several other small fires around the community at around the same time. These fires caused minimal damage but are being treated as arson as well.
Residents of Lynn Lake have become frustrated with the wave of vandalism says John Perepeluk , who has lived in the town for over 30 years.
"The bus station was burned down two years ago, then the dairy bar, and some abandoned houses," said Perepeluk, "social services needs to step in or something to stop the kids who are out roaming around the streets at 2 in the morning because all there is for them to do at that time is start trouble."
Perepeluk was baptized and married at St. Simon's Anglican Church and the most recent fire has hit home with him.
"There are all kinds of records and things that were in there and now they're all gone," said Perepeluk.