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Vandals cause damage in First United Methodist Church

FREEHOLD – Police are investigating vandalism at the First United Methodist Church that damaged the organ in the local house of worship.

On Jan. 23, the Rev. Wil Wilson said the vandalism occurred during the evening of Jan. 21 when an individual or individuals gained access to the church and damaged the organ by vandalizing some of the decorative pipes that surround the instrument.

The church is located at 91 W. Main St. in Freehold Borough.

No injures occurred during the incident, no items were stolen and nothing else in the church was vandalized, Wilson said.

The organ was constructed by the J.P. Moller Organ Company of Hagerstown, Md., and dedicated in 1967. The organ consists of 677 pipes which range from about the size of a pencil to 10 feet long and 1 foot wide, according to Wilson.

No organ pipes or decorative pipes were stolen from the church, but the decorative pipes are considered to have been destroyed.

“The decorative pipes that have shielded the organ pipes for decades were a prominent feature of our sanctuary, as hundreds of people have been baptized, married and memorialized with these pipes overlooking it all,” Wilson said.

“Due to the vandalization, the decorative pipes have been almost completely destroyed, with some amount of damage to functioning organ pipes,” he said.

An investigation into the vandalism at the First United Methodist Church has been initiated by the Freehold Borough Police Department.

Wilson thanked the police department for its response to what occurred at the church and for the investigation that is underway.

“While the police seek justice, I urge us as a church to pray for the persons desperate enough to do this to our sanctuary. While their act has violated our sacred space, I know God loves them more than God ever loved our organ. We are a people of mercy and forgiveness. May God move our hearts toward mercy in this difficult time,” he said.

Wilson said services would continue to be held in the sanctuary. It is not known when the organ will be repaired.

“In the midst of all this, we must not let this tragedy crush our spirits,” he said. “Our mission is not to have the best organ in town. Our mission is to serve God and neighbor as people who practice love and mercy.

“I am grateful to the Freehold community and the United Methodists of Greater New Jersey who have reached out and offered their support to us in this time.

“They say that in tough times you find out who your true friends are. I have discovered that I have more friends than I thought. So we press on, seeking guidance from God in the days ahead.

“May our faith grow through this time of adversity. May our Christian character shine in the face of darkness and hardship. Amen,” Wilson said.

Anyone with information about the Jan. 21 vandalism at the First United Methodist Church is asked to contact Detective Shaun Hobbs at 732-462-1233, ext. 125.

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