Calvary Baptist Church Target of Thieves

Knoxville (WVLT) - Many thieves and vandals see churches as easy pickings.

Easily fencible property, often not well protected.

But one inner city congregation has become almost a weekly target.

They praise the Lord a-capella at Calvary Baptist Church on Baxter Avenue.

But not by choice.

"They took about $600 of our sound system. It was done on a Thursday, I suspected they'd come back figured they'd had til Sunday before we'd be here," says Pastor Paul Burress.

Doors, forced open.

Then there was the van.

"We have kept it up, but they stole the battery out of it. Then one day, they took all the valve cores out of the tires," says Burress.

A Boom Box ripped off, from the Sunday School Classroom where kids were learning sign language.

"They even stole the children's candy! "Since then, we've just loaded everything up when we leave. What we have left," says Burress.

What gives?

The short answer, gets complicated.

"We're a start-over church, this is a start over community that has changed a lot over the years," says Burress.

But Calvary's services remain spirited.

And spirit-filled.

For though the rock breaks windows.

And iron now bars the doors.

"We're not interested in forting ourselves in, we're not afraid of the people that's done this," says Burress.

Rather, Pastor Paul Burress says, he fears for them.

Urges his congregation trust, and see the patience of faith.

"What they need is Jesus. Amen! If they had the Lord Jesus in their heart I know if they become a Christian someplace they'll bring that stuff back."

Police have made no arrests.

But as Pastor Burress puts it the thieves haven't stolen.

What belongs to the congregation.

But what belongs to God.