By Carrie Brown McWhorter
The Alabama Baptist
First Baptist Church, Roebuck Plaza, in Birmingham, is cleaning up after vandals struck the church Nov. 3.
Pastor Jim Auchmuty received a call from the Irondale Fire Department at about 2 a.m. on Friday morning telling him that the church had been vandalized. Two wreaths on the church’s front doors had been set on fire, as had an awning over a single door at the rear of the church. Also, a large paving stone had been thrown through a stained-glass window.
“The window is about 12 feet off the ground, and the rock landed on the second pew,” Auchmuty said.
The plastic wreaths melted, causing damage to the fiberglass doors and to the carpet just inside the doors. Had the doors been wood, the damage to the church would have been much worse, Auchmuty said. As it was, church and community members got to work and repaired the structural damage.
“By the grace of God and people of good will, by 6 p.m. Friday night, new doors had been installed and a new window had been placed,” Auchmuty said.
Cleaning the interior
There was no evidence of entry into the church by the vandals, but there is extensive soot and smoke odor throughout the building, Auchmuty said.
A professional cleaning crew immediately began to clean and deodorize the carpet and interior surfaces, a process that Auchmuty said might take a few more days.
“Fortunately we have the fellowship hall where we can worship and will continue to worship until the sanctuary is fully restored,” the pastor said.
Nothing like this has ever happened to the church, and Auchmuty said emotions ran high throughout the weekend among the 30 or so regular worshippers at the church.
“There was great disappointment and some anger, but we are a congregation of older people who survived the aftermath of the Great Depression,” he said. “All their lives they had to adapt and adjust as best they could. So they took it in stride and we had a good worship service on Sunday (Nov. 5).”
Lifting up prayers
During the service church members offered prayers for the individual or individuals who committed the crimes, praying that they could be forgiving and that the guilty ones would come to repentance.
A gas station in the vicinity of the church also was vandalized Nov. 3.
The investigation into the two cases is ongoing.