By Rev. Dr. Sunny Farley

It was a sad day for Addicks United Methodist Church in Houston when the pastor and her husband got to church March 3 to discover vandalism.

“We got there early for the first Sunday (of the month),” Rev. Cathleen Haughton said. “I headed to the fellowship hall and my husband went straight to the chapel then he came running back to the fellowship hall and said, ‘Honey, you are not going to believe this.’”

The two went back to the chapel to survey the damage.

“They did a job on our beautiful, little chapel. They stole everything – the offering plates, clocks, the sound system, speakers, microphones, the cross from the table, the purple stole I left out for the Lenten season, all the candles, lighters. It was just crazy,” Haughton said.

The worst part was the desecration of the altar, she said.

“They can have all that material possessions, but someone had no consideration for almighty God – no respect, no fear for what they were doing.”

It was a sight that brought the pastor to tears.

Those tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy, however, when God’s people showed up and got to work.

“The amazing part was that the members began to arrive and go through all the damage,” Haughton said. “The members started putting chairs out in the fellowship hall and found what they could to make an altar in fellowship hall and we actually had church there that Sunday.”

Word soon spread. Both Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey and District Superintendent Rev. Elizabeth Duffin were called so they would know about the damage.

Rev. Duffin was in a district meeting that day when she learned what had happened. “There was an immediate outpouring of support from the other church leaders to offer help,” Duffin said. “They raised $1,029 to support the Addicks congregation.”

Rev. Eric Solorio from nearby Mission Bend UMC showed up with donuts, coffee, and some cloth to adorn the altar in Lenten purple.

“There have been many God moments. The generosity of the people who heard about it and said ‘Hey, we hope this can help,’ that meant the world to us,” Haughton said.

Addicks UMC is still in the process of repairing and cleaning up the damage left by the vandals, but the congregation was able to celebrate Easter in a clean space.

Haughton said the church is not focused on the work of the vandals, but on the work of God both inside and outside of the church building – that includes making “manna bags” filled with snacks, water, hand sanitizer, socks and other items that might be useful for the homeless in the community.

Addicks UMC has a rich history. The building church is celebrating its 145th anniversary this year.

“This church has been in existence since 1879 and I feel like we have to keep on the legacy, keep this place alive. I love this little church,” Haughton said.