Albert Troutman and his wife, Betty, never attended the Free Liberty United Christian Church in Moore County, but they said the damage deeply affected them.
"It shocks me. It makes me angry because I have lived here all my life, and we have never had any problems like this with anybody," he said.
Vandals smashed windows and furniture throughout the church and carved a racial slur into the pulpit. After news of the church vandalism spread across the community, people started calling members with offers to help.
"I never thought it would turn out like this," church member Betty Ellerbe said. "I was disappointed at first, but now I can say we are still blessed."
Seven people, ages 16-21, have been charged with breaking and entering and property damage. Wayne Sands, one of the alleged teens who was responsible for the vandalism, sent an e-mail to WRAL, offering to help repair the damage.
Sands writes in the e-mail,
"For the people that were affected by what we did, I can truthfully say that I am sorry and have learned a big lesson from doing this." "I plan on going back to the church and correcting all the wrong that we did. I will work on that church until it is exactly like it was when we found it that is my word."
Ellerbe said she is pleased about the news.
"It makes me feel good if he means that from his heart," she said.
Church members said they plan to clean up the damage, but not yet. They want people to see how bad the damage was. The suspects will appear in court March 27. Church members hope to have a service on March 23.
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.