Vandals reportedly accessed the Fowler United Methodist Church in Annapolis by entering the building through the basement window. The place of worship was left with a ravaged century-old bible, and hymnals were scattered all over the floor.
Shattered Century-Old Bible and Hymnals
Around 9 am on Friday, Jun 9, after getting into his car for a quick lunch, Rev. Jerome Jones of Fowler United Methodist Church noticed that the top trustee of the church had left him several missed calls and texts urging him to come right away. When the pastor arrived, he was welcomed by four law enforcement vehicles and an investigative evidence vehicle, and that's when he knew the situation was more difficult than he had initially thought, Capital Gazette reported.
That morning, officers from the Anne Arundel County Police Department responded to a call at the church on the 800 block of Bestgate Road. They discovered proof that someone had broken into the church predominantly attended by black people and inflicted almost $100,000 worth of damage. As mentioned, the floor of the red-carpeted sanctuary was covered in hundreds of shredded pages taken from the church's collection of hymnals and the century-old Bible. According to Lieutenant Jackie Davis, who serves as a spokesperson for the county police department, the event is being investigated as a high-dollar burglary, vandalism, and hate crime.
As per Baltimore-Washington Conference, its Board of Trustees and many congregation members took on the mission of cleaning up the church. People from all over, including District Superintendent Sarah Schlieckert and other United Methodist pastors, prayed, provided their support, and contributed materials for the Sunday worship service that was led. It reportedly appeared that everyone was cleaning up with the notion running through their heads the entire time, "We are living in a hurting world. We said a prayer for them in worship," Rev. Jones asserted.
Moreover, even while attending church made some attendees feel exposed and prompted them to express fear, those individuals continued to do so. Rev. Jones said he "asked the Lord that the act of vandalism bring a greater display of God's glory." He thanked God for the fact that regardless of what happened in the darkest of times, the glory of God continues to shine. The church pastor also hoped that the rehabilitation process would impact people's hearts and lives. On the other hand, after the burglary, the forensics team from the police department visited the scene and discovered many fingerprints. Therefore, they have reason to think that the same individuals were involved in the other occurrences in the neighborhood.
People Rally Behind Church's Congregation
Based on a report from WMAR2 News, people in the surrounding community, including strangers and members of other denominations, are currently banding together to support the church's tiny congregation, which consists of approximately one hundred people. According to Don Ogburn, a member of the Calvary Methodist Church, this is a Black Methodist Church, although the institution located over the bridge used to be predominantly white. "It's no longer that way, but we're all brothers and sisters, not because of Methodism, but because we believe in God," he added.
Furthermore, the church officials said that despite all the damage that occurred, the attackers were unsuccessful in dampening the congregation's spirits. After regaining their liberty in the aftermath of the Civil War, the ancestors of the church reportedly began gathering at this location, and even a heinous night of vandalism will not be able to cast a shadow over the days that are still to come.