FREDERICKTOWN — Places of worship offer a sense of safety and security. They serve as a haven when the world becomes overwhelming.
When that safety is shattered, people experience feelings of uncertainty and loss. The congregation of Christ the King Community Church in Fredericktown is dealing with that uncertainty after a vandal caused extensive damage to the church earlier this week.
Pastor Lucian Baker said a group of parishioners had worked hard to paint and spiff up the church for Easter.
“It doesn’t look so nice right now,” he said on Thursday afternoon. “But we’re still going to have church on Sunday, on Easter.”
Baker said surveillance cameras showed the perpetrator arrived around 2 am Wednesday and was on the grounds for six to seven hours.
“He was sitting out there; he was agitated,” Baker said. “He threw one brick through the main door of the church and shattered the glass. He waited a little while, then picked up another brick and threw it through the window.”
“When things like this happen, and the church closes, I think it’s a time when people have a feeling that the darkness is winning. But when the church is open, that light is not diminished.”
Damage includes the door, several windows, the interior tile floor, several pieces of furniture, and a communion table. Several tables have glass embedded in their top. Estimated repair costs are $12,000 to $15,000.
Baker acknowledged that other places, such as the 2019 Texas church shooting, have experienced a much greater catastrophe but noted there is still a sense of violation from the vandalism.
“The church is a safe place, and all of a sudden, we see windows busted out, doors busted out. The first thing that comes to mind is ‘is my safe place no longer safe,’” he said. “I think it’s important that no matter what happens, we will still have church.”
Baker believes it is essential to continue with services, including tonight’s Maundy Thursday service. He said that when the coronavirus first arrived, the church initially shut down in compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
“Then we realized that was not a wise decision because people needed a place to go to worship,” he said. “People needed to know that no matter what happens, the church will go on.
“The church provides a certain amount of stability, a foundation you can stand on,” he continued. “If the church burns down, the church will still be there. People shouldn’t put all of their hope in the place, just know that the church is going on no matter what.”
Referencing the war in Ukraine, lack of facts from the media, and other events, Baker said, “There’s a lot going on in the world, and people have a sense of ‘there’s a darkness that I can’t identify.’
“When things like this happen, and the church closes, I think it’s a time when people have a feeling that the darkness is winning. But when the church is open, that light is not diminished,” he said.
“And we are going to do that. We are going to open and not let that light diminish.”
Baker said that, if nothing else, the vandalism incident proves the need to pray for one another and for the man who committed the vandalism.
“I don’t know why he was so angry, but he definitely needs more than he has,” Baker said. “We need to be more understanding, more compassionate, and more available.”
Maundy Thursday service begins tonight at 7. Stations of the Cross runs on Friday from 3 pm to 8:30 pm. Sunrise service on Sunday is at 7 am, breakfast at 8 am, and the main service at 10:30 am.
“The church is open,” Baker said.