COLUMBIA, S.C. — The congregation at Bell Memorial Baptist Church had plans to return to their sanctuary after being kept away for so long due to the pandemic.
But when the church secretary entered the building on Dec. 26 to check in on the building, she found something heartbreaking. She walked into rooms of shattered glass, BB pellets in walls, and items tipped over. She immediately called the police and alerted the Rev. Nicky Wilson.
Wilson said he walked in only to find damage all across the building. And, according to the church, this was not the only incident. They filed a second police report this weekend after coming in and finding additional damage.
"You can see where the light fixtures out of the back of the church and pulled them out of the ceiling, wires are hanging, broke dishes in the kitchen had been destroyed, more glass and damage and the keyboard had been smashed and destroyed,".Wilson said as he recounted some of what they had found.
PHOTOS: Vandalism leaves trail of destruction inside Columbia church
Wilson is working and following the protocols officers told them to put in place, which will be installing cameras across the church and adding more lighting to the building as well.
Meanwhile, as he and others work to find a path forward, he wants people to understand that their church is a place of worship. He said that he wants people to come in and discuss ways of life and how being with Christ can make their lives better - and how it can lead them down a better path.
"Please do not vandalize, we are here as a help agent," he said. "We want to be here as a service of good in our community and that is what we represent."
As for plans to return to in-person service, church officials are not sure when that will be as they, in faith, take their newest obstacle one day at a time.