Vandalism disturbs downtown church

Mar. 18, 2013 @ 07:20 PM

A Henderson church is in consultation with city leaders on ways to end a vandalism problem that became troubling to members during Sunday services recently.

Charles Turrentine Jr. said several youth came into the church from the basketball court across from Davis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church on North Chestnut Street, used the facilities and left water running, creating a destructive mess.

“They came back on Wednesday,” Turentine told a meeting last week of the Henderson City Council.

Turrentine said Monday the church is not about shutting people out or getting even, but at the same time there is a need to protect congregants and hopefully instill some respect in the few young people who pose a problem.

“Everything was quiet this Sunday,” Turrentine said. “We locked the doors during services.”

That is not how they want to operate all the time, he added. The church wants to be open for visitors, and it is not as though the neighborhood is a problem.

“The neighborhood is OK,” Turrentine said.

According to Turrentine, on the Sunday the vandalism incident occurred he went out to the several youth who may have taken part in what essentially one individual did.

“They wouldn’t own up to what happened,” he said. “They are a younger generation, and they don’t have the same respect for church, self-respect either, just to be respectful for others going to church.”

Turrentine said that doesn’t mean staying away, but if they feel like they want something, just open up and communicate.

“If they want some water, just ask,” he said, “they can also come on in and sit down.”

Ideas mulled by City Council members included closing up the use of some basketball courts on Sunday mornings if there is a problem.

“I don’t think there is anything keeping us from having those courts closed to 2 o’clock on Sundays,” Councilman Michael Rainey said. “We own those courts. We should do something and not have to put up with this.”

“It is sad if people can’t feel safe when they go worship at their church,” Mayor Pete O’Geary said.

City Manager Ray Griffin said city staff, mainly through the Henderson Police Department, has worked with businesses on the same sort of issues, and that help should be available to churches.

“We offer this free of charge to businesses, and even residents,” Griffin said. “They will give you advice on how you can better protect yourself from that happening again.”

Turrentine said closing some courts for part of Sunday might work. The church has worked in the past to help refurbish the basketball courts as a part of their neighborhood involvements to help make things better.

The church leaders have also found themselves involved in recent months with the local neighborhood watch.

“It is more older people in the neighborhood who are involved,” he said. “The older generation is more watchful.”

Turrentine’s father, Charles Turrentine Sr., is pastor of Davis Chapel.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.