A Montgomery County Baptist church was intentionally set on fire for the second time in seven months early yesterday, causing more than $60,000 in damage to a church building, county fire officials said.

Montgomery firefighters discovered fires set in several locations at Montrose Baptist Church near Rockville about 5 a.m. yesterday, officials said. No one was injured, but a building that houses a church-operated school received smoke and water damage.

Montrose Baptist's Sunday school was canceled yesterday, and no classes will be held at the school today. The sanctuary was not damaged, and the church's worship services were held as scheduled.

The Rev. Robert Crowley, Montrose Baptist's pastor, said the incident is strikingly similar to an arson attack in June that caused $850,000 worth of damage to the same building involved in yesterday's fire.

The only man charged in connection with the June fire is in jail. Lee A. Records, of Gaithersburg, pleaded guilty to arson in October and is serving a 14-month sentence in the Montgomery County Detention Center.

Crowley said that yesterday's incident raises questions about whether Records acted alone and whether Montrose Baptist has been the target of "hate crimes."

"We're just shocked," Crowley said. "What are the chances that two fires being set in the same church in seven months is a coincidence? If you believe that, you believe the moon is made of green cheese."

John Powell, a member of Montrose Baptist's congregation, said as he was leaving worship service that most church members reacted to yesterday's blaze with disbelief.

"You just can't believe it would happen again," Powell said. "We just got the building fixed up from the last time. It's hard to fathom."

Capt. Raymond Mulhall of the Montgomery County Fire Department was called to the church about 5 a.m. Mulhall would say only that firefighters discovered "more than one fire" on church grounds; Crowley said there were four.

According to Crowley, two fires were set in the church's education building, near the spots where fires were started in the June incident. Another fire was set in a temporary construction shed near a partially completed gymnasium. Crowley said someone also set fire to a bale of hay and placed it just outside the sanctuary near a ventilation unit, filling the sanctuary with smoke but causing no damage.

Although he said he had no proof, Crowley speculated that the church's political activities might have been the motive for the attacks. Crowley said the church "has taken a strong pro-life, pro-family stance" on many issues; a sign outside the church urges readers to support an antiabortion demonstration later this month. In 1985, Crowley led a group that opposed a Montgomery County ordinance banning discrimination against homosexuals.

Crowley said that neither he nor church leaders have received threats of any kind. He questioned whether county officials adequately investigated the June arson.

Mulhall said fire investigators found no evidence that anyone other than Records was involved in the June blaze. He said investigators have no suspects in yesterday's fire.

"I can understand {Crowley's} feelings, but we have no evidence that these fires are hate violence," Mulhall said. "We did a fairly exhaustive investigation of the last fire, and we will do an exhaustive investigation of this one.

"In some situations, you have graffiti on the walls or something that makes it obvious you have a hate crime. You have nothing like that here," Mulhall said. "We will consider everything, but we just don't know yet what the motive is."