Last weekend was a trying one for churchgoers in Smyth County as a Marion church faced vandalism and a Saltville church suffered some damage in an electrical fire.
Smyth County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Tony McCormick said a church member reported the break-in at Mount Zion United Methodist Church on Old Ebenezer Road on Saturday. The member had gone to the church to turn on the heat for Sunday morning’s worship service when they discovered someone had broken in.
McCormick said nothing was reported missing in the break-in, but the building had been vandalized. A large stained-glass window at the front of the building was broken, he said, as were several other windows. Pages from a large Bible dating to the 1800s had also been torn out, furniture was overturned and crosses were turned upside down.
In a Saturday evening Facebook post about the incident, the church member who discovered the vandalism said the congregation’s faith was not shaken.
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“Be assured you did not break our love for Jesus Christ, our risen savior,” they wrote. “Our church door will be open and we will be praising our Heavenly Father.... Pray for the person that tried to damage our church. They didn’t know the church is the whole of God’s people”
McCormick said physical evidence was collected at the scene and will be sent to the Virginia Crime Lab for testing.
Anyone with information on the break-in is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 276-783-7204.
Over in Saltville, Midway Memorial Church on Highway 107 will need to undergo repairs after an electrical fire damaged part of its ceiling.
Saltville Fire Chief Brian Lynch said units were called to the church around 5 p.m. on Sunday after church members there smelled smoke.
Lynch said the congregation reported seeing the lights flicker during their Sunday morning service, so some members returned that evening to check on things when they discovered the smoky smell of a smoldering fire in the ceiling.
Most of the damage to the building is cosmetic, Lynch said, explaining that the insulation in the church’s ceiling had caught fire, damaging three trusses. Additionally, firefighters had to remove a seven- to eight-foot section of the ceiling to extinguish the fire. Water damage was minimal, he said.
With some wiring work, a few repairs and some TLC, Lynch said the building will be whole once more.
Chilhowie Fire-EMS assisted in the fire response.