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Break-in leaves church community shattered

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A church community in Lansing has been rocked by a break-in and the theft of computers, tools and audio equipment.

Pastor Gary Schnepp and Assistant Worship Director Stephen Hammes have been with True North Community Church for over a decade. In addition to broken glass, theft and vandalism have also left them heartbroken for their community.

“You feel violated, don’t you?” It’s like what’s going on? I understand that people have needs, ask. Just ask, we are that kind of congregation. But going in and seeing the devastation is intentional. I mean it’s well thought out,” Schnepp said.

Empty crates, littered desks and fire extinguisher powder are some of the things left behind by Lansing Township police called in to investigate a break-in at True North Community Church Thursday night. Hammes said the theft not only hurt their congregation, but also other communities, such as a group of Spanish-speaking worshipers, who use the space for Friday services.

“Devastated, hurt, we pour so much heart, energy and love into this church and to see it destroyed is just heartbreaking,” he said.

Police estimated that $1,000 worth of property was stolen, a figure that could rise as church leaders examine the damage.

As for who is behind all this? Schnaps said there wasn’t much to do since there were no cameras in the building. But dust and shattered glass left clues for detectives with footprints and blood found at the scene. Despite all the emotions that church leaders face, they take advantage of the moment to practice what they preach.

“Whoever the perpetrators, just know that you are forgiven. I am extremely disappointed. I’m sorry you made bad choices. Someone, somewhere hasn’t trained you well. You know, the words are pretty clear, “teach a child the way he should go and he won’t stray from it,” Schnepp said.

Police are still investigating the break-in and say the blood samples taken will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. As for the Sunday service, Pastor Schnepp said the church will continue indoors or outdoors.