Local News

Vandals target Chatham County church

Posted June 5, 2010 6:22 p.m. EDT
Updated June 5, 2010 11:22 p.m. EDT

— Authorities are investigating after the Lighthouse Baptist Church at 12063 U.S. Highway 15/501 in Chapel Hill was vandalized overnight Friday.

Satanic and obscene messages were sprayed on the church's walls, hymn books were destroyed and windows were broken during the break-in.

"I have never seen, in my lifetime, such a blatant disrespect for God and his house,” Lighthouse Baptist Church Pastor Mark Hall said.

Hall said he discovered the destruction when he arrived at the church early Saturday.

"This is the first time that I have seen something of this magnitude,” Capt. Charles Gardner of the Chatham County Sheriff's Office said of the vandalism.

The wooden cross that hung above the pulpit was stolen during the break-in, along with two American flags and some electronic equipment.

“It makes you sad because you see what people have inside them,” Hall said.

Authorities said the suspect, or suspects, likely broke into the church through a back window. The church did not have an alarm system or security cameras, Hall said.

Despite the destruction, the pastor said he and the congregation are praying for those responsible.

"We pray for them. I prayed for them this morning after it happened because this person, or these people, there is no way that they can have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Someone that does cannot do this,” Hall said.

Hall said Sunday services will be held inside a tent that was already set up for the church's annual homecoming celebration.

"God's going to provide and we will have services out on the grounds,” he said.

Gardner said he is looking into whether the vandalism meets the criteria of a hate crime.

If you have any information about the vandalism, call the Chatham County Sheriff's Office at 919-542-2811.