Services Moved After Vandals Damage Church

| May 31, 2010

Vandals wrecked a church in Columbia County early Saturday morning. Sunday services had to be held in a different location due to all the damage.

Church officials at Millville United Methodist Church believe teenage vandals trashed the place near Bloomsburg around 4:30 a.m. Saturday.

"We have some plaster to fix, walls to paint. We have some dust to clean up and some other related things, but we will be back in our church," Pastor Richard Leonard told the congregation.

Sunday services for the Millville United Methodist Church were held at the church's Greenwood building all because their main church was damaged by vandals.

Church officials believe a group of young kids entered the unlocked church around 4:30 a.m. and tossed worship books and damaged music equipment, but the real destruction was in the downstairs social hall where vandals threw paint on the walls and sprayed fire extinguishers, covering everything with dangerous dust.

"My first reaction, I was angry. I was angry yesterday just because of the extent of the damage. We've had isolated incidents before, but this was a whole church event. This was a 17,000 square foot building and it all needs cleaned now," added Pastor Leonard.

Church officials said things could have been much worse.

"These young kids did not damage anything valuable. We have hand bells, thousands of dollars worth of hand bells. There's an organ there. There are other instruments there, sound boards, pianos, all kinds of valuable stuff that was not touched, not damaged. They just walked by it, so for that we're grateful," said Leonard.

Leonard said it appears the only thing taken was an overhead projector, but that has since been replaced.

Many church members were surprised to hear about all the vandalism but said they will forgive those who caused it.

"My first thought was the young people need prayer. I am sure they were looking for excitement," said Edna Harding of Millville. "I think we need to pray for them and get them into our church."

"Hopefully they'll realize it was not the right thing to do and become a part of the positive aspects of our community," added Derl Derr of Millville.

Church administrators said because of all the damage, doors that used to be open at all times may have to be locked.

"You hope that the church can always be open to the public for prayer and hopefully we can maintain that," said church member Charlene Derr.

"I want them held accountable for what they did. They need to be forgiven. We won't hold a grudge. I'm not out for retribution, but neither do I think they should be slapped on the back of their hands and sent on their way," added Pastor Leonard.

The pastor estimates damage to be around $3,000. A crew will be in Tuesday to clean things up.

Worshippers should be back in the Millville United Methodist Church next Sunday.,0,1714698.story

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Category: Church Security

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