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New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne targeted by vandals

Vandals on Tuesday broke windows and kicked in doors at New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne, leaving its pastor, Dr. Virgil Humes, looking for answers.

It’s the third time the church has been targeted by vandals in the 27 years that Hume has been pastor.

Humes said the vandals kicked in the doors and broke windows at a former Burger King next door to the church that it had purchased for a community center. The center is in the midst of renovations.

Also, vandals tried to damage one of church vans in the process, knocking off a door handle. The cost of the damage isn’t known.

“When our project manager came to open up the church for the contractors he saw that all the windows in the building next door had been busted out with rocks,’’ said Humes. “The front entry door had been completely knocked out. Everyone knows the building belongs to us.’’

The incident is being investigated by local police.

This isn’t the first time the church has been targeted by vandals.

In two other incidents, vandals painted swastikas and racial epithets on walls and other parts of the church.

“We don’t have any indications that this one was raced-related, but my gut tells me it was probably someone targeting our African-American worship center here in the city of Wayne,’’ said Humes.

The first act of vandalism of the church happened in 1998 and two people were caught with the help of the FBI, Wayne County and Michigan State Police.

“They were members of the European Educational Association,’’ said Humes.

One received a prison sentence while the other, who was remorseful, had to provide 200 community service hours to the church.

“I was a little resistant at first,’’ said Humes. “He did apologize. They got convicted for a race crime. Janet Reno, the Attorney General at the time, came out and met with me. As a result, we ended up getting some new parking lights.’’

 The second act of vandalism at the current location on the 33000 block of Michigan Avenue happened in 2009, and those individuals weren’t caught .

Humes said the church, which has about 1,800 members, has made positive inroads in the community.

 “The white community has been very supportive and we’ve been working with the chief of police and we’re on very good terms with the police department,’’ said Humes. “We just served them Thanksgiving dinner last week along with 100 families.’’

Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to call Wayne Police at (734) 721-1414.

Contact Perry A. Farrell: pafarrell@freepress.com

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