Two Hardin County churches cleaning up after weekend vandalism

Hardin County church vandalized, members speak out

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Two Hardin County churches were trashed over the weekend. Members found sacred items and antiques destroyed and other items missing.

When members walked into the Smith Chapel United Methodist Church Sunday morning to turn the heater on and start making coffee before services, they immediately saw the devastation.

“Everything in the altar setting was on the floor,” Martine Smallwood, a member at the church, described. “The tree was on the floor, the piano lid was up. The hammers were taken out of the piano. The baptismal font was upside down. The Bible was missing. The cross was missing. The American flag was missing.”

Throughout the church, framed paintings, stained glass, and items cabinets were destroyed or thrown all over the floor.

Church services were canceled for the day, but members still came by to help clean up and take inventory of what was there.

“There was glass everywhere,” Smallwood said. “There were three pictures in the sanctuary, and they are destroyed.”

The glass covering the pictures and paintings was broken, and many of the paintings now have rips in them.

“There was a quilt that was made about 40 years ago and each block had a family’s name on it, and it was handwritten by that particular family member,” Smallwood said. “One of our members took it home and stitched over the name and had it forever and now it’s gone.”

TVs were also smashed and two figures from the nativity scene at the front of the sanctuary were damaged. The community food box outside was also destroyed.

“These are the food baskets we are preparing to give away right before Christmas,” Smallwood said, pointing out bags lined up filled with food on one of the church pews. “They didn’t bother those.”

Another church, Needham Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which shares the same parking lot as Smith Chapel United Methodist Church, opened their doors around the same time Sunday morning to find a similar scene.

"They just came in and destroyed anything they could get their hands on," Connie Toczko-Adkins, the daughter of the pastor at Needham Cumberland Presbyterian Church, said. "That's kind of what it looked like."

They, too, found broken glass from paintings hanging on the wall. Hymnal books were scattered across the floor.

In their bathrooms, sinks were ripped out of the wall.

“Items can be replaced and items can be fixed, but our church bible was 45 to 50 years old and they took that,” Toczko-Adkins said.

In the office, papers covered the floor. Many of their church records, which date back to the 1800s, were in the office.

"[They] dumped them on the floor and I guess when they came across these old records they just tore the pages out and I have no idea where the rest of them are," Toczko-Adkins said.

Kentucky State Police believe someone broke into the churches sometime between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. Sunday.

“That is still my biggest question is ‘Why?’ Why would you just be destructive?” Toczko-Adkins said.

Both churches said this is a minor setback, but they have cleaned up and plan to have Sunday services again this week.

Anyone with information can contact Kentucky State Police at 270-766-5078.

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