“I never thought that in 100 years I would see this place look like this,” Pastor Clifford Walls said.
HOUSTON — A Houston church known for community service is struggling after being targeted by thieves and vandals multiple times in recent months.
Hunter Memorial Church of God in Christ is on the corner of Airline Drive and Neyland Street in north Houston. From the outside, it looks like the neighborhood beacon it has been for decades. However, from the inside it is clear that the church has taken a beating.
“I never thought that in 100 years I would see this place look like this,” said Pastor Clifford Walls, brother of the church’s senior pastor. “I saw a lot of things happen here that were good for the community.”
Walls says they often feed the hungry and provide clothing for the poor. At the height of COVID, although church services stopped, outreach continued.
About six months ago, as they were preparing to fully reopen, someone broke in, cut the water lines and flooded the building, according to Walls. They worked to clean up the church only to be robbed again.
Loudspeakers, instruments, copper from the two air conditioners, as well as clothing and other items were stolen. At the time, cameras and motion lights were installed, but these were also taken. Walls says the church has been burglarized at least twelve times in six months, cutting through the walls to get inside. It seems that they also slept there.
The church was also vandalized. Windows have been smashed, furniture has been cut, walls have been spray painted and even toilets and sinks have been torn from the walls.
Over six months, Walls says damages are estimated at $150,000.
“Several times we came and cleaned up, a week later they come back and trash the place. For us to experience this over and over again is just a bit heartbreaking. »
Walls says they tried to get more help from Houston and city police, but felt frustrated by the lack of response. On Tuesday, Mayor Turner and Chief Finner had a phone meeting with Ken Walls, the church’s chief pastor. The church hopes more support will come as a result.
Right now, Walls is leaning on the faith that this holy place will somehow be restored.
“I just believe in the Lord; it’s just going to make a way. He’s going to find a way for us to put it all back together,” he said.