ATHENS (WATE) – A brown manila envelope is raising some worries at local churches in McMinn County.
The anonymous letter inside, sent to about 50 churches, notes some Bible scriptures with underlying themes of violence.
The McMinn County Sheriff’s Office is trying to figure out who’s writing these letters and why.
“It says, ‘Behold I’ve created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire and that bringeth forth the instrument for His work and I have created the waster to destroy,’ ” said Pastor David Wendt, reading the scripture Isaiah 54:16-17 written in the note.
The note is signed “The Waster.”
“Sending a letter, certainly a non-threatening letter, is perfectly legal. But the world we live in today, everyone is worried about public safety and church safety. So we just want to make sure everything is on the up-and-up,” said Sheriff Joe Guy.
This is not a criminal investigation, though churches in other counties in Tennessee such as Monroe, Loudon, Polk and Bradley have received similar notes.
Sheriff Guy says investigators in Murray County, Georgia, have received letters from their churches. Investigators are working together to manage this on a regional level.
“We do have some leads. We’ve got some photographs and video from some other counties,” said Sheriff Guy.
The sheriff’s office is asking congregations to take added safeguards and having deputies come by and offer suggestions.
“Just having greeters in your church to welcome people, which most churches do that, that’s what we would call soft security,” added Sheriff Guy.
Not knowing the motive and the anonymity is troubling for some pastors.
“As a church we can always do things better. So I don’t mind constructive criticism. but this letter was kind of filled with not too much hope,” said Pastor Wendt.
Wendt hopes whoever is writing the letters knows churches are willing to listen.
“And we can find that hope in the scriptures together,” said Pastor Wendt.
Even churches in McMinn County that say they have not received the note are taking safety precautions.
If you know something about these letters or your worship center receives one, you’re asked to call the McMinn County Sheriff’s Office at 423-745-5622.