Local News

Vandalized church celebrates rebuilding

Posted September 12, 2010 2:44 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2010 10:51 p.m. EDT

— A congregation hit by one of the worst cases of church vandalism in Chatham County's history held a service of appreciation Sunday to honor all those who helped them rebuild.

On June 4, two men broke into Lighthouse Baptist Church, broke windows, damaged windows and hymnals, stole a wooden cross and other items, and painted satanic and obscene messages on the walls.

"I think that was probably the worst part, because you just can't believe someone could do what they did and write what they did," church member Virginia Neville said.

Thanks to the community's response, though, the vandalism turned out to be a blessing in disguise, Pastor Mark Hall said.

One church donated a piano after seeing Hall on TV talking about the crime and those responsible.

"Some of them just came by to tell us they were praying for us. Some came by and gave us a check and just said we want you to know that this isn't representative of the community," Hall said.

One of the suspects – Joey Polinger, 19, of 28-A Woodbridge Drive – has publicly apologized for the vandalism and said that he was drinking and only vaguely remembers what happened the night of the crime.

Congregation members said that their pastor's calm, forgiving attitude has guided them.

"He wasn't upset," church member Scott Parrish said. "He even invited those people to church, and that really stuck with us."

Hall said that the vandalism has served a higher purpose.

"It's opened avenues for people to see what God can do," he said.