A CLERGYMAN has spoken of it being a “very difficult” day after a rural church was targeted for the second time in six months by thieves who stripped lead from the roof – but he is praying for the culprits.
St Patrick’s Church of Ireland at Cairncastle suffered substantial damage in the latest raid.
Minister at St Patrick’s, Rev Philip Benson, said: “A very difficult day as it was discovered early this morning that for the second time in six months St Patrick’s Church Cairncastle has had its lead stolen from the roof.
“This time the theft and damage is considerably more serious. We would like to thank the PSNI for their quick response and support as well as Longmore Security.
“We are helping the PSNI with their inquiries and urge anyone who saw anything suspicious at the church over the last week or know who attacked the church to come forward and report it to PSNI Larne.
“We have received a few requests for ways to donate to help with the repairs which will run into the thousands of pounds and will be setting up a Just Giving Page over the next day or so.”
Commenting on social media, the minister added: “Although it is difficult, we pray for the thieves that they will come to know the error of their ways and come to know that St Patrick’s is a place where all are welcome and where God’s love is known.”
A PSNI spokesperson said: “Following the theft of a substantial amount of lead from St. Patrick’s Church, Ballymullock Road, Larne, on Thursday 10th October at approximately 23.45 hours, we ask that members of the public remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity on 101.
“If anyone has any information regarding this theft or if any members of the public in the area has CCTV footage of vehicles at that time please contact us on 101 quoting no. 261 of 11/10/19.”
At the end of September lead was taken from the roof of a church at Bay Road in nearby Carnlough and there had been a similar incident in Carnlough in May.