While in the middle of a major renovation, the First Lutheran Church of Throggs Neck was struck by graffiti vandals.
The church appears to have become a target of graffiti vandalism on the its steps, front door, pillars, and signage, Pastor Ulf Lunow said, in what seems to be a recurring problem.
Tags were spray painted on the upper part of the church, facing Bruckner Expressway, sometime in the late evening of Thursday, March 17 or the early morning of Friday, March 18 after vandals probably climbed onto the scaffolding that is in place for renovation work.
Most of the graffiti was recently removed by Senator Jeff Klein’s graffiti removal team, with only a small portion of the scribble, which is on a stained-glass window, remaining, but will soon also be cleaned.
“We, as a congregation, are very thankful to Senator Jeff Klein for agreeing to remove the graffiti for free,” Lunow said. “It is bad enough that they are making graffiti, but to do it on a church that is undergoing renovations is much worse.”
The church, which is the only New England-style church building in Throggs Neck, was in the midst of major renovations of its steeple and stained-glass windows, Lunow said.
According to Klein’s staff, they are waiting on an approval from the Fire Department, which needs to be present as they remove the graffiti from one stained glass window, to finish the job.
“I am pleased my office was able to send out a crew to help remove the graffiti from the First Lutheran Church,” Klein said. “It is extremely disturbing whenever vandals target houses of worship or their property, which makes it so important we toughen the penalties for such disgraceful crimes. This sends a clear message that this behavior will no longer be tolerated.”
Another issue, said Lunow, is youth congregating along the fence line of the property on Hollywood Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard who shatter bottles on the church sidewalk and leave behind garbage on the church’s lawn.
Despite being host to youth programming including the Bronx Underground, the Boy Scouts, and its own Sunday School, he feels that the church is something of a target.
“It is sad because this is a church and the vandals have no respect for anything sacred,” Lunow said. “And considering our outreach to the community, that we are the target of people who are probably coming from the community, that is definitely not good.”
If the vandals are caught and brought to justice, they could face felony charges under a new law that was sponsored by Senator Klein in the legislature.
The current penalty for anyone defacing a house of worship is a class E felony,with a prison sentence of up to four years.