Religious leaders stunned by vandalism

Published 8:00 am Thursday, December 19, 2013

Two Niles churches were vandalized over the weekend, leaving area church leaders shocked and searching for answers.

“I hope this happens to no other church because it is a real violation,” said Joan Schmidt, council president of St. John’s United Church of Christ. “Why would anyone do that to anyone, let alone a church that tries to reach out and help people? It’s just too bad.”

St. John’s Church, 601 Sycamore St.; and Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 601 Ferry St., were vandalized sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning. The churches are located one block from each other on the city’s northeast side.

Schmidt, who also serves as the church’s chairman of buildings a grounds, said she noticed the vandalism early Saturday morning while going into a garage to get a snow blower.

The word “leaders” was spray painted on the rear of the church annex in orange paint, according to a Niles Police Department report. There was also white paint sprayed on the rear doors and the door to the detached garage on the east side of the property.

“Quite frankly I was stunned because our church has been here 150 years and never had anything like that happen,” Schmidt said. “It’s pretty sad that people would do that to a church.”

Pastor Bryant Bacon, of Mount Calvary, said police notified him of vandalism to his church Saturday morning.

According to the police report, obscenities were spray painted on the doors and walls of the entranceway.

Nothing was taken from either church, but the paint was similar at both crime scenes, according to the police report.

Bacon said he has had no similar problems at the church in the 12 years he’s been there.

“I wanted to put it out there in case some of the other area churches want to know what’s going on,” he said. “Hopefully someone in the community knows what is happening and will come forward.”

Bacon said church members were able to remove most of the graffiti over the weekend, although some remains on the brick portion of the building.

“There’s just a little permanent damage,” he said. “Once the weather changes we might be able to do something different to get it off.”

Schmidt said there is no permanent damage to St. John’s.

There are no suspects at this time.