“They are relentless:” North side church destroyed by vandals, damage estimated in the thousands

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MILWAUKEE -- A historic church is destroyed. Thieves have vandalized a north side church and now its future is in jeopardy. The church's school and childcare centers may be beyond repair.

The thefts have gradually gotten worse, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage. And it has left a pastor desperate for help.church2

It is a Milwaukee church rich in history, standing for more than 125 years.

"There's a lot of folks that have a lot of connections to this great great ministry," said Pastor Dennis Harmon, Emmaus Lutheran Church.

Now Emmaus Lutheran is in jeopardy after months of vandalism.

"I just hate to see it go down the drain. It's sad," said Pastor Harmon.

For about three years, the church's childcare center and school have sat vacant. But that hasn't stopped thieves from getting inside.

"They were kicking it out, they made their way in here," said Pastor Harmon.

church3In recent months, the vandalism has continued to get worse.

"They took all the plumbing out here," said Pastor Harmon.

Copper pipes have been ripped from the walls -- wires dangle and glass windows are shattered.

"They are relentless of trying to get in here and do their damage," said Pastor Harmon.

The heating system is destroyed in the childcare center.

"There were two furnaces, those are all gone," said Pastor Harmon.

At the school, computers and televisions were stolen from the classrooms. The pastor's office saw the same fate.

"They just ramshackled, you can see they went through everything," said Pastor Harmon.

Even the food pantry was not left untouched.church4

"To do that, I just don't understand it," said Pastor Harmon.

The damage is estimated at close to half a million dollars. And this pastor is hoping for a miracle -- working on faith and forgiveness that the church will thrive once again.

"I have to forgive them and I hope they stop doing what they're doing," said Pastor Harmon.

The pastor says they have reported the damage to police. While he is praying for justice, he is also asking for community help.

If you would like to help donate to Emmaus Lutheran Church, you can do so by calling the Missouri Synod District Office at (414)464-8100 -- or CLICK HERE.


      • Wilson

        WOW you catch on fast tim… Yes can I make it any more simple for you? Station two armed guards in the church overnight and shoot people who break in to rip the place off. Do you understand that tim?????

  • Harco

    That’s what insurance is for. I’m sure the church has it.. So why do they want more free money?

    • Common sense

      Insurance doesn’t cover everything. If they have stained glass windows, historical pieces, the insurance has astronomical premiums and high deductibles.

    • wally phillips

      people who have medical insurance still ask for money on sites like go-fund-me..why?? insurance doesn’t pay everything…same answer here…insurance isn’t going to pay for everything…there’s nothing wrong with asking for donations

    • Wilson

      I’ll tell you why harco, because they are going to milk this thing for everything they can. They collect money every week during services, they pay no property taxes being a church, so begging for more donations via this article is right up their alley. How many break-ins does it take before they take decisive action and do something to prevent further break-ins? No, no, just beg for more money to cover losses they could have prevented….

      • KNT

        Have you ever gone to this church ? Well I have baptized and confirmed there . My mother even worked at the school back in the 80’s . They barely get the collections they need so stop being hateful . The violence will not stop . Even when my dad was working to help STOP things from getting stolen , people would come in and rob people at gun point during bible study . So don’t blame the church blame these people who have no soul to stop robbing and messing up the church for no reason

  • robert

    these acts are a reminder of the decay and assaults that used to occur at the school when it was open– from an ex-student

  • Steph

    Dennis and Armita Harmon are two of the most faithful people I know. They have served that neighborhood for years while others deserted it. They give of their own money continuously to throw block parties, bring food, clothing, anything. Armita has a thriving business and supports Dennis in ministry like crazy. If you can support them PLEASE do. They are unbelievable people. They have taken care of the needs of two of my boys continually. They are a blessing!

    • Wilson

      Hey steph guess what? They also take money from the neighborhood everytime they have a church service and pass the collection plate. They also benefit from not paying property taxes because their property is exempt being a church. Maybe if you were a better mother the harmons wouldn’t have to take care of your two boy’s needs???

      • Mark

        What is wrong with you? That is the most hateful comment I have read in a long time. I don’t know what you have gone through in your life but in my opinion, attacking someone for thanking people for the good work they do is just wrong. Vandalism is wrong. Plain and simple. I hope the church can keep going. Its a good thing. Church is a good thing. No matter who you are. If teaching people not to lie, steal, cheat, and kill is a bad thing, then this world truly is going down the tubes. My well wishes go to this church.

  • T. Nakamura

    “I have to forgive them and I hope they stop doing what they’re doing,” said Pastor Harmon.”
    Um, yeah, you just go right on thinking that.

  • sick of idiots

    if this place wants money for doing nothing to stop it why would anyone want to throw money away for that. Lets say they do get all the money they need to put things back the way they were. They just want to forgive them and pray it stops what a joke. then it will just be stolen again. Until they are willing to do something to stop it i wouldn’t consider giving them money so the thieves end up with it they are already into half a million dollars and not mad enough to do something about it.

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