GOODYEAR, Ariz. — A non-denominational church in Arizona was targeted by vandals this past week in what is being considered a hate crime, leaving an estimated $20,000 in damage.
Desert Springs Community Church in Goodyear discovered on Thursday that someone had broken into the building the previous night and vandalized the premises. Glass jars were smashed, holes were punched in the wall and profanities were spray painted in various locations.
Reports state that hate symbols were also painted on the walls, but details were not provided as to exactly what the symbols represented.
Police arrived on the scene to assess the damage, but no suspects have been named as of yet.
In the meantime, Pastor Steve Engram took to Facebook to notify his congregation about the incident.
“Right now, there are still many questions that remain unanswered as to the how and why,” he wrote. “I am happy to report that though some equipment was stolen (a few computers and cameras) and some damage occurred (mostly due to being tagged), it was not nearly as bad as it could have been.”
Engram said that the situation reminded him of the truth of Scripture regarding the darkness in men’s hearts and Jesus’ call to be the light.
“Processing this event today kept taking me back to John 8 that we will be studying Sunday morning,” he explained. “The world is in darkness, driven by anger, selfishness and evil desires. That is why Jesus, the Light of the World, came to liberate everyone who believes! He alone gives the true meaning of life and sets free all who believe in Him!”
“That is why we are here as a church, to shine forth His light into our community,” Engram continued. “Though this event happened to us, we must understand that it is for people who are living in sad darkness that Christ has put us here, to share with them that Jesus can forgive and change their lives. We do not know who did this, but Jesus does. Would you join me in praying that the Lord would touch their lives through this situation and that they would come to know Him as their Light and Life?”
Church members went to work on Friday to repair the damage, painting over the hateful messages and making other needed repairs.
The incident occurred just two weeks after a church in Jackson, Tennessee was also struck by vandals, leaving Satanic messages behind in the attack.
“The cross on the altar table was turned upside down,” Lebanon United Methodist Church member Kay Williams told local television station WREG. “And a cross that stays at the front of the church was taken down and also put on the table and turned upside down.”
Ashes were found scattered around the sanctuary, and sprinkled in the offering plate, indicating that the person had been smoking. Members also discovered that the vandals permanently etched the phrase “Smoke meth and hail Satan” into the church altar, made of wood. An upside down cross was inscribed with the numbers 666 in another area of the altar, and the Bible was turned to page 666, where the page was then burned.
There are no reports of named suspects at this time.