Church, golf club vandalized

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 17, 2011

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Graffiti appeared again at Organ Lutheran Church on Wednesday morning, but it disappeared by late that afternoon.
Church members and other volunteers worked throughout the day to clean and cover most of the spray paint. The vandalism — the second at Organ Lutheran this week — occurred sometime Tuesday night.
Pastor Carlin Ours said it “feels very good” to be rid of the graffiti.
“We’re just amazed it came off so easily — totally amazed,” he said. “We’re hoping this is all we ever have to deal with.”
Warrior Golf Club in China Grove reported a similar crime Monday morning, according to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. The vandalism there involved spray painted graffiti, defaced state and American flags and other property damage.
Wednesday morning, member of Organ Lutheran called Ours to report graffiti on the church’s new building.
That building had not been vandalized in a previous incident reported Tuesday morning, in which the door and wall of the nearby historic church building were spray painted.
The sheriff’s office said Satanic symbols, along with various words and phrases, were sprayed on the new church in red, white, blue and black paint.
Organ Lutheran, also known as Zion Lutheran Church, sits just southwest of Rockwell at 1515 Organ Church Road, Salisbury. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest stone Lutheran church in North Carolina.
The pastor was stumped Tuesday as to how the spray paint could be safely cleaned from its walls, but a neighbor found the answer.
Crystal Roseman said she searched online Wednesday for a graffiti remover and found Taginator, a biodegradable solution made for use on masonry.
Two distributors — Hotsy Equipment Company in Denton and Equipment Trade Service Company in Norwood, Pa. — each agreed to donate a $60 gallon container of the product to Organ Lutheran.
Roseman’s husband, Jim, and church member Dale Funderburke sprayed the solution onto the walls and then rinsed them. In a little over an hour Wednesday afternoon, they cleaned nearly all of the paint from both buildings.
Ours said he thinks at least 30 to 40 people helped with the cleanup in some way.
“So many people from the community have reached out to us,” he said. “We’ve had folks as far away as Huntersville call and ask if there was anything they could do to help.”
After trying to sand a white number “666” off the large, red front doors, Wayne McCullough said they would have to be repainted.
“It gets your gut,” said McCullough, a 40-year church member. “I should’ve been here and stayed up all night and watched, but I never thought they’d be back.”
Church leadership is talking about its security options, Ours said. He said a “healing service” was scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Ours said the church will continue to preach the gospel, “and we’ll spread it to them too.”
He said his sermon this Sunday will include the words of Jesus Christ in Luke 23:34 — “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Ann Shive, who has been a member of Organ Lutheran for nearly 50 years, said she’s still in disbelief.
“It’s hard to believe someone could be so low as to do this,” she said. “It’s just terrible, but we’ll make it with our faith in God.”
On Wednesday afternoon, volunteers washed some red graffiti off two white doors with paint thinner. Ken Austin, who has been a member of Organ Lutheran for 30 to 40 years, helped cover what was left with white spray paint.
“I think we live in a sick society, and this is the world as we know it today,” he said.
But Austin’s disgust wouldn’t prevent him from extending an invitation to the vandals.
“I said we should put something on the sign,” he said. “‘You’ve been here twice; now come visit on Sunday morning.’ ”
• • •
Authorities are trying to determine whether the incidents at the church and a golf club in Rowan County are part of a string of vandalism that stretches through three counties.
Monday morning, Warrior Golf Club, 1150 Lake Wright Road, China Grove, reported that someone had spray painted the clubhouse building, two garage doors, concrete walls, a bag stand, a back door and several signs.
According to the Sheriff’s Office report, the club’s flagpole was knocked down, and there was graffiti sprayed on the state and American flags. A post was pulled down and shoved in the mailbox, which also was spray painted.
Lights along a garden pathway appeared to have been pulled out or kicked out of place, the report said, and two of the lamps were painted with swastikas.
The graffiti included pentagrams, the number “666” and the phrase “Dream Team,” according to the report.
Trash cans were emptied out, and a torn up newspaper was found littering the flowerbed. The report said the club’s newspaper is usually delivered around 5:30 a.m., and the vandalism was found around 6:30 a.m. Monday.
Several churches and businesses in Stanly County, along with a church in Anson County, also have reported that they were vandalized Sunday night or early Monday morning.
The State Bureau of Investigation has been called in to assist local authorities in investigating these crimes.
Crime Stoppers has offered a reward of up to $1,000 in both counties for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in this case.
Those with information may call the Stanly County Crime Stoppers at 704-982-0711 or the Anson County Crime Stoppers at 704-694-4188.