Volunteers help church recover from vandal attacks on MLK Day of Service

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 6:24 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Holy Nation Church of Memphis got help from the community for MLK Day of Service after vandals wreaked havoc on the inside and outside of the church earlier in the month.

Pastor Andrew Perpener Jr. says if you would’ve asked him last year if his congregation would’ve been the recipient of an MLK Days of Service project, he wouldn’t have believed it.

But after his church was vandalized not once but twice over the last two months, he’s incredibly grateful for the group of volunteers who answered what Martin Luther King Jr. said was one of life’s most important questions: “What are you doing for others?”

The answer to that call came from Shelby County Commissioner Charlie Caswell.

“We were looking at a collective project to do for our community, but when I saw this, I said, ‘Hey ya’ll, I got to do this for our district,’” Caswell said.

On Saturday, Jan. 7, Pastor Perpener was greeted by a disaster when he came to set up for the church’s weekend services.

Outside the church, stained glass windows were shattered.

The vandals smashed windows to gain entry to the sanctuary, where they made off with equipment the church uses to broadcast their services out into the world.

After the criminals tagged the inside of the gymnasium, they unleashed the contents of multiple fire extinguishers onto the courts. They also defiled the gym with gang symbols.

The wooden floors had to be completely redone.

So, Commissioner Caswell bought supplies and gathered volunteers of all ages.

Then, they got to work. They painted over the graffiti in the gym, polished the expensive floors, and began clearing the debris left over after vandals broke multiple windows.

Over the course of Monday morning, they realized the gym was less destroyed than initially thought.

Now, Caswell is hoping it can go back into operation sooner than they hoped — giving kids in the neighborhood a place to play.

“It’s great potential for our community to have a facility like this,” Caswell said. “It’s sad that this situation happened, but I believe it’s gonna be a bigger comeback for us.”

Pastor Perpener said the comeback is already in the works.

He’s been in conversation with the Memphis Police Department as well as Police Chief CJ Davis about starting a youth program for kids to stay off of the streets.

MPD also installed a SkyCop in the church’s parking lot to help deter other ne’er-do-wells from committing crimes there.

“We’re still trying to figure out exactly how [the partnership] will happen, but anything to help our children to get them off the street and give them something productive to do,” said Perpener.

The total damages were initially over $30,000, but Pastor Perpener said they are still waiting for an insurance claims adjustor to visit for a final total.

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