PLEASANT RIDGE, Ohio (FOX19) - A Pleasant Ridge pastor says he’s had it with vandals wrecking parts of his church and forcing his small congregation to help pay huge repair bills.
Pastor Derek Terry of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ hopes better lighting and security cameras will keep vandals from kicking in the windows of his church fellowship hall.
Pastor Terry says vandals have struck 8 or more times since he’s been at the church and it needs to stop now.
“This year and last year, we have 3 windows that we were replacing every week,” Pastor Terry said. “And then, it would get kicked in again, and again and again and so now, we just have ugly, boarded-up windows.”
The vandals have even kicked through the replacement wood used to board up the windows.
“I wanted to get a big banner and say, ‘We have nothing! We’re broke! We have nothing!’ One time someone broke in and left a flashlight behind and I thought, this is literally more than they were able to get out of us! Like, we won!" Pastor Terry joked.
Around back of the fellowship hall at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, all three windows are boarded up.
And behind the shrubs facing the kitchen is the latest casualty, a window broken out Thursday.
Pastor Terry says they’ve tried flexible, airplane-strength Lexan panels, but to no avail.
"And they would kick it in. It wouldn’t break, but it would just get kicked in,” Pastor Terry said.
One of the vandals kept breaking in to sleep on the couch but left so many cigarette burn marks, they feared he might burn the place down.
"Which caused a huge moral dilemma for me as a pastor, because on the one hand, my heart weeps for this person who has no place else to sleep, on the other hand, he was in here smoking and moving stuff,” said Pastor Terry. "Even after he was arrested, he came back a couple months later, we caught him again.”
To add insult to injury, a recent storm did some major damage outside.
Pastor Terry has set-up a GoFundMe page to try and raise the money they need to either replace or upgrade the windows, which he estimates were put in back in the 1950′s.
He’ll use part of that money to get cameras and better lighting put.
Pastor Terry says he’s open to suggestions from contractors who may know of a better option for solving what’s been an annoying, frustrating and ultimately expensive problem.
No Bibles have been stolen, but he said he's happy to donate them, if the people responsible need to find Jesus.
“I’ll give them a stack,”Terry said. “If they stop vandalizing.”