Acts of vandalism plague TN church

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No place is safe from vandalism.

For years Pastor Ulf Lunow has established a routine of waking up and walking around the First Lutheran Church, located 3075 Baisley Avenue, to survey the damage.

According to Lunow the church is vandalized at least once a month, with more frequent occurrences in the summer.

“This has become a regular thing,” said Lunow. “Every month it’s something else.”

Despite the reoccurring acts of destruction, Lunow was shocked when parishioners approached him before the service on Sunday, October 4 to explain the latest act.

“They tried to remove the rain gutters on the side of the building. This is the first time they have ever tried to do that,” said Lunow. “Usually the vandals do graffiti or damage the bulletin board or the church door.”

During this past summer, vandals had knocked out both railings along the steps of the church, broke the glass of the bulletin board, scribbled graffiti on the building, and scratched markings into the bricks.

Lunow also explained that cleaning the yard has become a regular chore, which after weekends is covered in litter and empty bottles from groups of young adults hanging out on the side of the building.

“They line up their cars and hang out. You can’t expect anyone to watch this spot all of the time, especially at night,” said Lunow. “The biggest problem is the kids drinking on church grounds.”

According to Lunow, much of the surrounding community is elderly people who are afraid to approach the youths, and even when he confronts them, they often do not respond.

Many of the repairs are done using money from the church, though Senator Jeff Klein has assisted in the graffiti removal, but repairs are often costly and the damage seems to be getting more costly and more frequent. disgrace

“Trying to steal from a church is a disgraceful and dishonorable act,” said Klein. “These vandals need to face serious penalties. That is why I have introduced legislation that would increase penalties for vandalism or theft involving a house of worship. The legislation would elevate the crime from a misdemeanor to a Class E felony, which carries a sentencing recommendation of up to 4 years in jail.”

Lunow’s only hope is that something will soon be done to discourage the vandals from returning and ruining the sacred grounds.

“Its disrespectful to the church and the parishioners who consider this place an important part of their lives. We also open the church up to community groups and organizati­ons,” said Lunow. “It’s not like any other place, this is holy ground and I think my parishioners feel very bad about it. It’s not good for the soul.”

Updated 5:26 pm, October 21, 2011
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