At top, two angels lie face-down in the mud after vandals broke the hands from the Mother Mary figurine (bottom left) and stole Baby Jesus from the Christmas nativity scene at the Lutheran church in Lake of the Woods. Bottom right, four-wheeling in the church parking lot and grounds have also left damage. An electrical junction box had to be repaired and drainage sumps reshaped, an economic burden.
By Patric Hedlund
Jeff Bell was surprised and then shocked on New Year’s Day when he discovered vandalism to a nativity scene and the theft of Baby Jesus at the newly built El Camino Pines Lutheran Church in Lake of the Woods. Two angels lay face down in the mud, Mother Mary’s hands were broken off.
“It is the holiday season—what about ‘Peace On Earth and Goodwill Toward Men’” Bell asked. He suspects it all happened on New Year’s Eve. A report has been filed with the sheriff. Pastor David Swarthout hopes the community will report vandals who have damaged property at the church, including four-wheeling on the church grounds.
“It shows a profound lack of respect,” Bell said about the theft of the Jesus statue. “It wasn’t an expensive item. It is the idea of it that makes you feel so bad,” Bell said. He does gardening for the church and is a member of the church council.
“We want to get the word out to the community to ask people to keep an eye out for each other. If you see people with four-wheel drives doing damage, please report it. We have to reshape the sump every time they tear it up—they don’t do it in their own front yard,” Bell said.
He also said he was interested in helping develop some recreational opportunities for youth, including dirt bikers who live in the area. He said it is not the dirt bike activity on the church grounds that create the damage, but the four wheeling that takes place when the ground is wet.
The church’s news is not all bleak. On New Year’s Day Bell went with another member of the church council to pick up a donation from a member: a tractor.
“We’ve got some pretty great members in this church,” Bell said, brightening.
This is part of the January 09, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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