Vandalism at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Penticton means some costly repairs, but isn’t forcing them to close their doors.
Sometime last Thursday night, vandals aimed a garden hose into a stairwell leading to the lower floor of the iconic stone church, where it was left to run overnight.
Pastor Colin Cross says they are getting over the shock of the vandalism.
”We are not used to people vandalizing churches. It is not something you really expect,” said Cross. “Whoever did this knew they could do a lot of damage, I guess. They aimed this hose right at the lower stairwell. It was right down there, turned full blast and so the water went in through the doors and away you go.”
Cross said he isn’t sure what the total bill for the damage is going to be.
“The floor is gone, $20-25 thousand, something like that?” he said. “I am not sure what the insurance claim will come in at.”
The vandalism was discovered by contractors working on another project, replacing the dormers in the steeple of the nearly 100-year old church.
“That was a blessing,” said Cross, referring to the workmen noticing the hose early in the morning. “He was able to shut it off and then call me. It could have been on much longer. It could have filled up with yet more water.
“Half the hall was flooded and the storeroom was flooded. It was just kind of shocking that someone did it with some real thought.”
“This has just been a huge setback,” said Linda Middlestead, president of the Ladies Guild. “We are hoping and praying the repairs are done soon.”
One of the church’s outreach events is God’s Kitchen, which is run out of the hall on the lower floor. They’ve managed to keep that going by switching to handing out sandwiches in front of the church instead.
“We try to do our best to support the community,” said Middlestead.
Some other parts of the church’s community outreach will have to be put on hold for a couple of weeks, said Cross.
“All of that will shut down until we get it fixed. Hopefully, that is sooner than later,” he said.