North Bethesda UMC was one of three churches in Bethesda targeted by vandals over the weekend. At around 1:30 a.m. on July 9, the church was broken into, more than $1,000 of damage was done, and attempts were made to set multiple fires, Montgomery County police reported.
Damage was limited to the fellowship hall, the kitchen and hallway. Volunteers from the church worked tirelessly Saturday to clean up the building. Sunday services were held as scheduled, reported Ardoth Hassler, an administrator for the church.
Vandals also damaged the cemetery of Wildwood Baptist Church and broke into St. Jane Frances de Chantal Catholic Church, causing an estimated $50,000 damage to its sanctuary.
As a church family, members of North Bethesda say they were shocked at what happened to their building. A press release issued by the church said that “as a church of compassion. we know the church is not a building, but the people.” And, added that the congregation will be, “lifting up in prayer the person(s) who did this to this church and our neighboring churches.”
The Rev. Kara Scroggins, the senior pastor, said, “We are saddened by these destructive acts, and we feel tinges of the heartache and fear that arise in communities of all types when a sacred space is desecrated. We cannot know the hurt of the person or people who vandalized churches in our neighborhood, and so we lift their hurt and our own hurt up to God. We lament, we clean up, and then we return to the work that is ours to do: welcoming the stranger, loving our neighbor, and walking humbly with God.”