AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – On Thursday morning, it was discovered that St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church had been broken into and vandalized and extensive damage had been done inside the church, leaving the church to pick up the pieces and recover from this senseless act.
“I’m trying not to cry today, because I cried a lot yesterday, because this is a sacred space for us. This is our nave and this is more than just a building. This is where we come and we worship our risen lord,” said St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Junior Warden Greg Welch.
Welch said sacramental items were damaged, including the altar, the baptismal font, and the processional cross, along with the tabernacle being opened and consecrated hosts scattered on the floor, and water used for the font also being poured out onto the floor.
Welch added that the font is the most damaged, with the carvings of saints being targeted.
“Those holes are actually in our altar, the top of our altar table, that is where we take communion every Sunday morning, it is a very, very sacred space for us and all of us when we walked, we touched it, it’s been very difficult to see that and it’s like touching the wounds of Jesus, you know seeing that, knowing that this is where we take the body of Christ and the blood of Christ every Sunday and that is prepared for each service. That is something that has been very hard for all of us to see. And of course the baptismal font and the extensive damage that occurred there, that is also something that is very difficult because those are marble from Italy, it was hand carved. Those saints that were on each of the corners were hand carved, it took a long time for that, that is something that is going to be very difficult to if we can replace it at all,” said Welch.
Welch added the things that were damaged felt very specific and intentional.
According to Welch In 1996, there was a fire at St. Andrews and the entire church burned and it was a complete loss. He added they would rebuild the nave, but he says Father Jared Houze said this seems more personal and difficult for the church.
“The fire was something that was, there was an electrical short that started the fire, but this was intentional. This was humans intentionally coming in and causing this damage, and that’s been something that’s been very difficult for us,” said Welch.
In a statement released by St. Andrew’s, they stated the perpetrators entered through a window not covered by security cameras, immediately disabled the security system, vandalized the building, and then left through the locked front door.
Sgt. Carla Burr with the Amarillo Police Department said if the person or persons that vandalized the church are caught, they face serious charges.
“If they are able to identify whoever did it, it will be a felony level vandalism, criminal mischief, is the actual criminal charge for it and also considered burglary of a building,” said Sgt. Burr.
As of right now, Welch said they currently don’t know how much it will cost to replace or repair the items lost in the vandalism, but he adds one thing they will not fix is the altar.
“The damage that’s on top of our altar will be a symbol to us as Father Jared said like the wounds of Jesus. The wounds in his wrists, the wound in his side from the sword. These are now our wounds and we worship a wounded savior and that will be a part of our service from this day forward,” said Welch.
Welch said the church came together on Thursday night to pray.
“At 8 o’clock last night, we filled the nave with our members and we came together because we needed to be together, we needed to love on each other, we need to pray together and we needed to pray for the person that did this. They obviously have a lot of hurt in their heart and we want to pray for them and that they find peace and they find love and if anything, through this, it has made our love as a congregation even stronger and steadfast in our faith,” said Welch.
Welch added it means so much to have the outpouring of love from the community.
“It shows we are all one in Christ. It shows we are, while we have different denominations and maybe we worship a little differently on Sundays, we are all one in Christ and if one body is hurting, we come together to help each other,” said Welch.
St. Andrew’s added they are grateful for people who are eager to help and add those looking to help to support their Beloved Community ministry. According to St. Andrew’s, Beloved Community is multi-faceted in its outreach and through this ministry, St. Andrew’s has developed partnerships with many local Amarillo non-profits, neighborhood enhancement projects, and public elementary schools. People can donate directly to the Beloved Community ministry through their online portal here or can mail donations to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1601 S. Georgia St., Amarillo, TX 79102, marked for Beloved Community Outreach.
Welch said they will be worshipping on Sunday and added Bishop Scott Mayer will be coming in from Abilene to worship with the church and consecrate the nave.
Burr said anyone with information can call Amarillo Crime Stoppers at 806-374-4400. APD said you can also submit a tip online at amapolice.org or by using the P3 tips app.
This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.
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