Church sanctuary torched by vandals

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Updated: 6/04/2013 11:29 pm Published: 6/04/2013 11:21 pm

Thieves bust open a door and vandalize a church to get away with damages and a lawn mower.

"Come August our men are going to miss the riding lawn mower," said the Rev. Cap McIlnay.

"This act does not represent the community. This act doesn't not represent the character of this neighborhood," said McIlnay.

Grace United Methodist Church in the 500 block of South 49th West Avenue was targeted by thieves overnight on Sunday.

The thieves broke into the grooms’ room at the front of the of the sanctuary.

"Here they used paper towels and they ran it into this room and saturated those two pillows," said McIlnay.

He says the paper towels used for church dinners and hand sanitizer were used by the thieves as an accelerant. He also says they burned homemade afghan blankets.

"It was very disappointing that was used for this," said McIlnay.

Inside, the church office was sprayed with yellow film from the fire extinguishers.

"So if anyone did come running in, the fire extinguishers would be empty," said McIlnay. "They even sealed off the door."

Before they set the sanctuary on fire the thieves pried open the pastor's safe.

"The only thing they got was my bag of ashes for Ash Wednesday," said McIlnay.

A neighbor next to the church stopped by while FOX23 News was there to look at the damage.

"The dog didn't even bark," said Duane Block.

He says he's lived next to the church for 33 years and was also married in the sanctuary.

"It's not right, it's not right," said Block.

The pastor says he is not angry but believes this will teach the vandals to pray and not burn.

"I don't know what their motivation was if it was to destroy the church they failed. Even if they would have blown up the building the church was not damaged, the people are the church," said McIlnay.

He says he is going to frame the charred pieces of the Afghan blanket as a reminder of faith.

"I am going to put it on a plate that simply says ‘love never fails,’” said McIlnay.

He is hoping if the weather is nice to have a sermon on the lawn focused on "love never fails."

The temporary sanctuary has been moved to the dining area and he hopes to have the sanctuary repaired by the end of the summer.

Tulsa fire investigators are working the case. If you have any information, call the arson hotline at 918-596-ARSN (2776).

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