A church’s location could help against vandalism

Recent vandalism in the Local 6 area has many church leaders feeling unsettled.

A few have been reported in three local counties. McCracken County reports none so far this year, but Calloway and Graves counties each have recorded three incidents. Out of those six, three churches belong to the United Methodist Church's Purchase District.

Rev. Sky McCracken oversees more than 80 United Methodist churches. He believes location is a big factor in the recent cases. He says it’s time to be more proactive.

On Sunday, McCracken released tips for keeping church facilities safe. He says they are recommendations and depend on each church’s resources. The tips include having adequate lighting, securing valuables, alarm intruders, keep your church clean — including trimming shrubs so intruders are unable to hide — secure church vehicles, install surveillance cameras, and encourage community support.

“When you’re in a remote area, a lot of them are not well lit. They’re certainly not well traveled,” McCracken said.

Folks at Spence Chapel United Methodist, a small, rural church that was vandalized when windows were broken and the church was trashed, says these kinds of upgrades aren’t in the budget. Pastor Kathy Belcher says the church could possibly install more lighting but, because it is located right in front of a field, that wouldn’t prevent much.

Churches in more populated places, like Paducah, don’t have as much to worry about. Pastor Sara Tate at Fountain Avenue Methodist Church says the church fortunately has the resources for keypads, security lights and cameras, as well as staff. The location is key, though.

“I don’t worry about the church,” Tate said. “Being as close as we are to the police station is helpful."

McCracken says being a pastor much more than knowing the Good Book.

"It’d be helpful to have classes in plumbing and electricity," McCracken said. "And, of course, church security, because those things are also part of the job.”

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