MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A historic church in Rutherford County that played a pivotal role in the Battle of Murfreesboro has been vandalized, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Rutherford County sheriff’s officials are investigating and trying to find the person responsible after the inside of Ebenezer Primitive Baptist Church on Old Nashville Highway was left a dusty mess.
“As we walk, you can see the devastation of what they have done,” said Pastor Jerry Weeden.
Vandals sprayed the place with fire extinguishers, leaving the pastor in awe.
“This is disheartening to see that someone would take this type of action against a church,” Weeden told News 2.
Members were last at the church Tuesday night for Bible study. The next day, the pastor returned and found a church van with busted windows and obscenities along with the number 12 carved in the paint.
Two windows of the church were also broken and a side door was kicked in.
“This is a place where someone should feel safe and most definitely you never think someone would do this to the House of God,” the pastor said.
Members are having a difficult time believing someone would desecrate a church.
“You just feel a lost, you know, because you’ll looking at something and you just can’t image somebody would come in and doing that to your church,” said member Frank Gaines Jr.
After Rutherford County sheriff’s officials left the scene Wednesday, church members tell News 2, the vandals returned and vandalized the church a second time.
“The same individuals busted out the window again as we secured the window and pushed the organ from the door,” Weeden said. “They didn’t take anything, they just did more vandalism. They left a rock in my Pastor’s chair as you can see. I guess to send a message that we’ve been here or we’ll be back.”
Ebenezer Primitive Baptist Church was founded in the late 1800s and is located in the Cemetery Community of Rutherford County. It moved to its current location in 1932 after the State of Tennessee purchased the property it sat on in the Stones River Battlefield.
“The church was used for a safe haven for when the soldiers came in and they needed somewhere to stay,” Weeden explained. “The church would open its doors.”
It was recently presented a marker by the African-American Heritage Society of Rutherford County commemorating the role it played in the community.
Church members have now put up a no trespassing sign, hoping keep the vandals away. Leaders estimate the cleanup of the church, replacement of the broken windows, and fixing the van could cost about $10,000.
They have hired a restoration company to clean the church.