Austin church left reeling after vandalism over the weekend, urge others to be vigilant

Published 3:09 pm Monday, October 30, 2023

Leaders and parishioners at an Austin church near Ellis Middle School are hoping someone has information that could lead to the discovery of those responsible for vandalizing the building over the weekend.

The vandalism at Bethlehem Church was discovered Sunday morning when people were arriving for worship. Written in large red letters near the front entrance were the words “Lucifer Lives Here.” On a second set of doors was written “God No More.”

According to Pastor Paul Steele, it’s not the first time the church, located at 1500 Fourth Avenue SE, has been vandalized, but it is the most serious.

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“We haven’t had it to this extent,” Steele said. “We’ve gotten some on the back side of the building, but not in those big red letters.”

According to Austin Police Chief David McKichan, a property damage report was taken Sunday and said that the damage likely took place between noon on Friday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

McKichan added that there are no suspects at this time and anybody with information related to the vandalism should call the Austin Police Department at 1-507-434-9400.

The church isn’t equipped with security cameras, something leaders have been looking at recently because of how easy it is to get on the building’s roof.

Church leaders have discovered alcohol containers on the roof in the past suggesting that some have used it to go up and drink. Those events have also resulted in some damage to the roof.

Steele said that those coming to worship Sunday morning were deeply affected by the vandalism.

“Most of the people in the church were pretty upset about it,” Steele said and added that he was more disappointed. “From my perspective, it is what it is. It doesn’t hurt my feelings at all; it’s more of a nuisance.”

Aside from removing the vandalism, Steele is focused on making sure others know about it and are being vigilant.

“I don’t think we’ll ever find out,” he said referring to the culprits. “More than anything I just want to get the word out to other places and other businesses, but especially to other churches.”