Montavilla church members cope with repeated break-ins

Find out how members and leadership of the Grace Baptist Church are dealing with the loss of their sound equipment. And, learn about their resolve to continue finding new ways to connect with their community – including a “Football Party”, scheduled for Sunday, February 6 …

Pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Randy Pearson, shows where their sound mixing board once was located — until stolen by thieves.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Standing in his study at Grace Baptist Church, Pastor Randy Pearson said the theft of their sound equipment saddens him and his congregation. But, the loss won’t divert them from their mission of serving their neighbors in the Montavilla area.

Pearson, who has been the church’s leader for the past nine months, told us they believe the thieves came into the church and jimmied a door, so it wouldn’t securely lock. “The first break-in was sometime between Sunday, January 9, and Tuesday, January 11.”

The criminals took the audio mixing console, three of their four audio monitors, and wireless microphones and audio cords, Pearson said. “Some of our headset wireless microphones were fairly new; the thieves also took the cartons. Maybe it helps them to  pawn or sell them.”

Thieves return, leave with little
Then, the same crooks may have been the ones who broke in again night of January 13. “The second time, they came back to the same door, and when they couldn’t get in, looks like they took a pair of vice grips to the handle and wrenched it open.”

On their second visit, the crooks damaged a filing cabinet when they pried it open, Pearson reported. “I’m sure they were disappointed; all that was in there were files and records. They did take a computer monitor. In total they got about $3,500 worth of goods.”

He, and church members, have been working with police – and are checking area pawn shops and scanning CraigsList to see if their stolen equipment turns up.

Thefts won’t deter them from eye on the church’s mission, Pastor Pearson says.

Says crimes raise safety issues
“More than the loss of the equipment, it’s made our congregation feel vulnerable,” Pearson said. “For me, it’s not so much a property issue as it is a safety issue. Our church secretary, a day or two after the break-ins, said she’s now leery of walking into the building by herself. Right now, we’re focusing on safety and security issues.”

Services are still being held, Pearson said, thanks to the loan of a small soundboard by a member, and a couple of monitors from Rose City Sound. “We’ve set up a special fund to help replace the equipment. We do have insurance, but we still have to figure out how to cover the deductible.”

“What we hope for at this point,” continued Pearson, “is that this doesn’t detract us from the ‘bigger picture’ or learning how to better minister to our neighborhood. This is just a blip in the road, and we need to continue what we’re doing to really connect with our neighbors.”

While church services remain a central function of their church, Pearson added, “We also have a ministry of ‘doing things’, like building relationships. As [St. Francis of Assisi] famously said, ‘At all times preach the gospel; and, when necessary, use words’.”

This church’s pastor, and the congregation, say they’re seeking ways to welcome the community – like a “football viewing” on February 6.

As part of their community outreach, Pearson said, the church is inviting neighbors in to see the “big game” on Sunday, February 6.

“Starting about 2:30 p.m., we’ll have it up on our big screen,” said Pearson. “Neighbors are invited bring soft drinks and snacks, and come share the excitement of the day in an alcohol-and-smoke-free, family-friendly environment.”

Montavilla’s Grace Baptist Church, is located at 200 Southeast 76th Avenue, two blocks north of SE Stark Street. Call (503) 254-5111 for more information, or see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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