Texas mosque welcomes members of church damaged by car crash

A Texas mosque that was destroyed by a fire last year is opening its doors to a Unitarian congregation that lost its place of worship after a car crashed into the church.

The Victoria Islamic Center offered its worship space Sunday to about 30 members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Victoria, the Victoria Advocate reported . A vehicle barreled through the church on May 29. No one was injured.

"You can use this place as long as you want — as many Sundays as you wish," Abe Ajrami, the Islamic center's treasurer, told the churchgoers Sunday. "When you're finished, just turn out the lights."

The mosque itself is under construction after being burned down last year. Federal prosecutors have accused Marq Vincent Perez of starting the fire that destroyed the Victoria mosque, located about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Houston. Perez is charged with a hate crime.

Area churches, including the Unitarian Universalist Church, offered worship space to the Islamic center after the fire.

The Unitarians will use an auxiliary building at the Islamic center for several months as they decide whether to relocate or rebuild, said Manuel Zamora, the church's president.

Lisa DeVries, lay leader and former church president, called the crash and damaged church property an opportunity in her sermon.

"We have plenty of broken pieces at the moment," DeVries said. "But, we are going to put them back together and create something new."

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Information from: The Victoria Advocate, http://www.victoriaadvocate.com