Vandalism and couple of church fires on the east side of Kansas City are prompting parishioners to ask investigators if criminal play is at hand. (Brett Hacker/KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Vandalism and a couple of church fires on the east side of Kansas City are prompting parishioners to ask investigators if criminal play is at hand.
It has all happened around the area of East 41st Street and Indiana Avenue.
About two months ago, the New Hope church was vandalized. Then, the same church's bus caught fire earlier this month.
And on Sunday, a church just across the street from New Hope sustained major damage in a fire that broke out just after midnight.
The Miracle Temple Pentecostal Church served as home to about 50 parishioners who gathered weekly for service.
While many don't want to speculate if foul play is involved, they are upset about what has happened and want to know why their beloved church burned down.
"It is hard. Heartbreaking to wake up and hear your church is gone," said Johnny Sherman, whose aunt, Whoopi Mitchell, founded the church about 30 years ago.
Sherman and his brother, Calvin Syas, have attended worship services there since they were boys.
The brothers are angry that their aunt's church is now charred rubble.
"Justice. We want justice," Sherman said.
"As long as we've been going here ... ain't no fire, nothing. So somebody had to do it," Syas said.
Across the street, the New Hope Church has had its recent share of unexplainable damage.
"We've been trying to put the pieces together with things that have been going on ... the break-ins, the bus fire," Bishop Michael Hardy said. "The crazy thing about it is they aren't taking anything. They're just vandalizing and torturing things."
While Hardy won't speculate about who may be at fault for the church incidents, he did get a clue left inside his church.
"They left a note when they broke into the church saying, 'F God.' Maybe somebody is upset with God," Hardy said.
And if there is any truth to that speculative motive, Hardy's advice is that God still loves them.
In the spirit of family love, parishioners are united to dig through the remains of their church in an effort to move forward.
One bright spot came when Sherman found the drum set he often played there.
But despite the difficult circumstances surrounding the loss of Miracle Temple Pentecostal Church, Hardy says Mitchell would've stayed positive.
"Mother Mitchell, she was a real sweetheart. I can just see her here saying, 'Baby, don't worry about it. It's gonna be all right,'" Hardy said.
The fire investigation is now in the hands of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal agency that always handles fire investigations in houses of worship.
John Ham, a spokesman for ATF field office in Kansas City, said investigators hope to determine the cause of the fire in the next few days.
For now, New Hope has beefed up security, adding an alarm system, more outside lights and a guard to watch the property during services to give churchgoers some extra comfort during an upsetting time.
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