This afternoon, many of us received this shocking news from St. Andrew’s Cathedral:
According to a follow-up story in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Dean Walter Brownridge said damage to two stained-glass windows was estimated at $8,000 each. “The incident marked the second apparent vandalism attack within the past few weeks. A week ago Monday, furniture and the church’s harpsichord were damaged, he said.”
Here are comments from Facebook:
“No words to describe people who damage churches. Check out the pictures. Someone threw rocks at the stained glass windows.
“So senseless, thoughtless… makes me want to weep.”
“So very sad. There have been so many incidents of vandalism at the Cathedral recently.”
“There’s something very wrong with people who do this type of thing”
Ironically, in January of this year I attended a Historic Hawaii Foundation lecture on stained glass, and it was held at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. The lecturers, Jim Erickson and Glenn Mason, presented a talk entitled “Stained Glass: Preservation and Protection.” They showed numerous slides of damage to locally-installed stained glass, whether by natural forces such as fire or strong winds or man-made out-and-out vandalism. I remember one of them saying at the time, “it’s not a matter of ‘if’ your church’s stained glass will be damaged, but ‘when.’ ”
You wonder what type of person would vandalize a church, or steal from one either. Last February when I returned from my Yale visit, Pastor Jeff Lilley told me that the Lutheran Church of Honolulu had been broken into — cash was taken out from the youth fundraiser, Punahou Carnival parking proceeds, and new computers were stolen. “Why would anyone want to steal from a church?” I asked.
And apparently church vandalism happens all over, and parishioners are left heartbroken, saddened that someone would do such terrible damage to their church. A New Jersey priest, Father Joseph Capella, said after his church was vandalized, “I was shocked and then—it’s kind of interesting, my thoughts immediately turned to the person who did it and I thought, what a shame. I wonder what’s going on in his or her life that they would take it out on the church.”
According to one website I found, here are the reasons churches are often targeted by vandals and thieves:
Why Are Churches Often Targeted by Vandals and Thieves?
It’s hard to say why criminals do the things they do, but churches are often especially vulnerable to vandals and thieves because:
- Churches often leave their doors open to all. Churches are supposed to be safe, welcoming havens, and the doors are often left unlocked so that members of the congregation can come and go as needed. Unfortunately, this can also offer an easy opportunity for thieves or vandals.
- Vandals or thieves may hope to make a statement. It’s unfortunate, but some vandals may target churches hoping to make a political or social statement.
- Church security may be more relaxed. Many churches trust their communities and don’t consider the need for strong locks, good lighting, or security cameras, and some criminals may take advantage of the low security.
As to St. Andrew’s Cathedral, I wondered, “What will happen to the Iolani Spring Concert,” I asked John Alexander. He replied, “No problem. Talked to them today; we’re good to go.”
Thankfully, there are professionals who can repair the damaged stained glass, matching the color and techniques used in the original glass. But what a shame this has happened.