Police Investigate Church Vandalism in New Hope Area

By: Mike Gurspan
By: Mike Gurspan

Authorities are looking for the person or persons who broke into a northwest Florida church and scrawled satanic messages on the walls.

Satanic symbols and messages are prominently scrawled across the walls of the Live Oak Baptist Church, a country church located near the Bay/Washington County Line late Friday night.

A person or persons broke into the church. They ignited several bibles and an American flag on fire attempting to burn down the church.

Clara Sewell, with Live Oak Baptist Church, said, "I believe it's pure devil, that someone who would come into God's house and try and destroy God's children; pure evil."

Pastor Greg Hammack said, "The scriptures teach us to find compassion, and forgive, but this is obviously a crime. We ask who ever did this to come forward and repent."

The Florida Baptist Convention learned about the destruction. They are lending assistance in getting the church back on its feet.

Jeff Gnann, with the Florida Baptist Convention, said, "I hope who might have done this is watching, and to repent their actions, and to come forward so we may be able to help them."

Washington County Sheriff Bobby Haddock says the break-in was not motivated by burglary, and that in a sense, is even more disturbing. "A burglary is bad enough, but to break into a house of worship, it affects that congregation, but the entire community and that's disturbing enough."

The congregation will hold services at the church's fellowship hall until repairs can be made.

The Washington County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of those responsible in the burglary at Live Oak Baptist Church.

That number is 850-638-TIPS.

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