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East Texans gather to pray, clean up damage caused by vandal at Tyler church

“Someone had just ransacked the place”
Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 6:46 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 7:21 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - “What was intended for evil has brought about goodness among the amazing people of Tyler.”

Those are the words of Rev. Dr. Sunny Farley, pastor at Tyler First United Methodist Church.

On Thursday afternoon, church and community members came together to clean up after the church was vandalized last weekend in a crime the pastor calls disheartening.

“Someone had just ransacked the place,” she said.

The vandal went through almost all of the church's cabinets and drawers.
The vandal went through almost all of the church's cabinets and drawers.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

Farley said she arrived last Saturday for a workday at the church, and walked through an already-open door to find the damage.

“There’s windows broken, furniture broken, the kitchen is tossed around like a tornado hit it,” she said.

What appears to have been a lone vandal, left behind a serious mess by rummaging through dozens of cabinets and drawers. Instruments and tools were also stolen from church property. In the kitchen, the vandal even made food and hot chocolate using groceries from the church.

Farley said it even appears the vandal brought in an animal, that left feces behind.

“The smell is terrible,” she said.

Inside the sanctuary, the vandal took a chair from the pastor’s office and rammed it into the communion table. Something Farley says, “you just don’t do.”

It appears the vandal slammed a chair into the communion table inside the sanctuary.
It appears the vandal slammed a chair into the communion table inside the sanctuary.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

“I guess disheartening is the word I would use. This poor church has done so much work in the community. It struggled through COVID, it struggled through the winter storm. Different things like that, and they’re trying so hard. So when I walked in and saw the damage, I was just super sad.”

But that sadness was quickly replaced with love as church and community members showed up Thursday to help clean up the damage.

”It’s kind of a blessing in disguise to gather people from different churches, maybe different denominations. And it’s great that we get to do this in the name of the Lord,” said Josey Gonzales, a friend of the pastor.

With forgiveness in their hearts, the church is moving forward. They’re even offering a seat in their sanctuary for the person responsible.

“We welcome them to come back and maybe instead of focusing on destruction, maybe they could come and worship with us and find a new path of living. Yeah. Amen.”

Tyler police are investigating the crime. Another church, Asbury United Methodist, was also targeted on the same night. The pastor tells KLTV alarms scared the criminal away.

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