But to their credit, churchgoers are not indignant nor have they expressed anger. Rather, they are understandably disappointed to know that someone — intentionally or otherwise — would damage the future church building.
In the words of the Rev. Richard Snyder, church pastor, “I think there is some disappointment. I do feel like they have taken it very well and not reacted in anger or anything like that, but more in disappointment.”
During an interview with Banner staff writer Delaney Walker, the Baptist minister added, “Most people who I have heard express an opinion simply hold on to the fact that they hope whoever did it did not know it was going to be a church.”
We would certainly agree. To vandalize an institution so sacred as a church blatantly dishonors the highest authority for whom it serves. It also is a grave injustice, and a sad act of disrespect, toward the members of the congregation, whose faith in God and community is lighting the way for relocating Blue Springs Baptist Church from its current location to the old school site.
Such antics also turn a deaf ear and unseeing eyes to public safety.
“What if?” It is a realistic question.
“What if” the building had been occupied during the shooting?
“What if” church volunteers had been inside the structure tending to last-minute tasks of the remodeling? After all, the move-in was expected to occur originally in late September. Now, due to bullet damage to electrical boards and the roof, the move has been postponed to October or later.
“What if” congregational members had been touring the facility’s interior, their excitement growing as move-in day approached?
“What if” contracted workers had been on-site as well? After all, it was a contractor who was painting the building’s exterior when the bullet holes were discovered.
These “What ifs?” can be unnerving, especially knowing that children could have been inside with their parents and other members of the Blue Springs church.
Through its purchase of the old Blue Springs Elementary School site — the facility that was heavily damaged by the tornadoes of April 27, 2011 — Blue Springs Baptist Church is making a commitment to south Cleveland and to its many blue-collar neighborhoods.
Plans call for a total relocation of the church, repairs to the old gymnasium which is the building that was sprayed with bullets from what authorities believe was a high-powered rifle, a future daycare facility to assist families in the community, the hosting of Upwards basketball and volleyball, a variety of community events and an election polling place.
Currently, the church just wants some answers.
The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation, but to this point no one has stepped forward either to admit to the crime or to acknowledge the shooting as being accidental.
“We just simply would ask for any information to be sent over to (the BCSO) to aid in finding who did this,” the Rev. Snyder said. “There seems to be some random acts of shooting, like the signs on the road to the building which have been shot to pieces. It seems to coincide to the same time the building was shot up. We hope the people in the community would want to find who is responsible to put an end to it.”
Not only are we interested in who did it, but why? Understanding “why” might help to prevent it from happening again — whether to the Blue Springs church or to other innocent properties ... or people.
Such random acts of violence defy reasonable explanation. We would like to believe it was accidental, but initial findings point to cold-hearted vandalism.
We admire the congregation at Blue Springs Baptist Church for their restraint. They are role models for patience and icons for faith.
Yet church members deserve an answer.
We hope they get it soon.
Until then, we support this fine church and we encourage its members not to be disheartened by the unthinking acts of others.