Kennard church practices forgiveness after vandalism

Houston Co. Pct. 1 Constable Morris Luker
Houston Co. Pct. 1 Constable Morris Luker
New Hope Missionary Baptist Church
New Hope Missionary Baptist Church
Church leaders discuss forgiveness
Church leaders discuss forgiveness

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) –  The New Hope Missionary Baptist Church has a large sign fronting highway 7 in Kennard.  Church leaders say it's a sign that ministers to passing cars.

"These church bulletin boards how they do - they'll put God is good and all of that," said Willie Mitchell, church deacon.

"We don't want to present the wrong message. We want to give some kind of message that will left them up," said Shonnah McGrew, Associate Pastor.

Two weeks ago someone changed their message.

"It had on one side actually 'Exercise daily: Walk with Jesus, Run from sin.' And he changed it to 'Walk with Sin, Run from God' and on the other side they actually put 'Jesus Suks'," said Keith Griffin, Lifelong church member.

Immediately, Griffin changed it right back.  However, around 11 P.M. Tuesday, it was messed up again.

"I came back and fixed it... I got a call about 3 o clock in the morning, they had changed it again," said Griffin.

He called the Houston County Sheriff's Office. Tips led them to a juvenile who admitted to changing the sign. Precinct One Constable Morris Luker says he arrested the same kid two years ago.

"We had a structure fire in Ratcliff... Pretty well thought it was an incendary fire," said Luker.

At first, he denied starting the fire.

"About a week and a half later met with again and confessed about starting the fire. So I filed arson charges on him and false report to a police officer," said Luker.

The sign has stayed blank since the third time the words were rearranged, but church leaders say within 24 hours it will have a new message - one targeted at the culprit and the community.

"A message for the people who did it and also Easter is coming up - a message from the cross... We're going to put Jesus forgives on the sign," said McGrew.

In fact, the church is not pressing charges. Associate Pastor Shonnah McGrew says everyone deserves another chance.

"I think about them as well. That there's something going on that they're dealing with. That needs to be taken care of spiritually," said McGrew.

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