A west Alabama congregation is left in shock after its church was vandalized recently with satanic graffiti. Around 6 AM Monday, members of Hope Baptist Church, which is located outside the town of Sweet Water, discovered that their church had been covered with profanity and satanic symbols.
"Basically, when I saw it my reaction was just total shock!" says Barbara Sessions, who is the musician at Hope Baptist. She was the first member to arrive at the scene.
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing."
Sessions says when she arrived, one of the church's brand new front doors was wide open and the numbers, '666' were spray painted on both doors. However, that was far from all of the vandalism.
One side of the church was covered in satanic symbols, profanity and some symbols that church members don't even know.
"In the United States, you don't expect to see something like this," says Pastor Fred Sakon. He showed Newscenter 11 the back side of the building. There we found more of the same type graffiti, a broken table and window. Once inside the church, members say two microphones and a mission fund jar were stolen.
"My husband is a deacon and he told me Sunday when he picked up that jar that it had more money in it than ever before," says Sessions.
"As for the damages, our insurance adjuster thinks that about $6,000 to $7,000 worth of damage has been done. That's considering all of the vinyl siding that's going to have to be replaced and the painting that's going to have to be done on the doors," says Pastor Sakon.
Church members stress that they believe their church was randomly chosen as the target. With repair work yet to start, church leaders say even if it's not finished by Sunday, services at Hope Baptist will go on as scheduled.
'We don't really need to feel sorry for this church because God's got this church!' says Pastor Sakon.
The vandalism is thought to have happened sometime late Sunday night or very early Monday morning. The Marengo County Sheriff's Department is handling the investigation. So far, no arrests have been made. Church members are asking anyone who wants to help, to make a donation to the Save A Life Crisis Pregnancy Center in Demopolis, Alabama. That's the charity that was set to receive the money that was stolen.