Vandals strike Hopewell Church
By Allen Palmeri
February 8, 2005
THOMPSON –Vandals splashed paint all over Hopewell Baptist Church, Thompson, Jan. 27, desecrating the pulpit, the American and Christian flags, keyboards, paintings, and both restrooms.
On Jan. 30, transitional pastor Weldon Forman brought a message of joy to the congregation of 20-25 that worships weekly in Thompson, a community of about 200 between Centralia and Mexico. James Wainwright, interim director of missions, Grand Crossings Baptist Association, said that even though Forman had to stand behind a pulpit painted with “some nasty expressions,” he was filled with courage and hope.
“God is in charge of this deal, and He is using it to magnify His name in the church,” Wainwright said. “The spirit of the church is not diminished in any bit. It has caused the church to come together more strongly than ever before.”
Steven Smith, 17, from the Centralia area has been charged as an adult with felony property damage, burglary and stealing and is being held on $16,000 bond in the Audrain County jail, said Maj. Bobby Stanford of the Audrain County Sheriff’s Department. A 15-year-old has been turned over to juvenile authorities on the same three charges, Stanford said.
Wainwright and Stanford both said it appeared to be a random act of vandalism. The felony charge means that there was more than $750 damage, Stanford said.
Wainwright said that once the insurance estimate is completed, the churches of the association will be quick to respond. Grand Crossings has 33 churches.
“I suspect 32 of them would show up if we sent the call out,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s cleaned up overnight.”