By Associated Press - Friday, November 27, 2020

HOLTS SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) - A historic Black church in Missouri has been vandalized, leaving its congregation reeling and authorities looking to find out who did it.

The Callaway County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that the acts committed at the Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church in Holts Summit, Missouri, are “despicable and quite offensive,.”

Deputies responded to the property at 1:32 a.m. Thursday following an alarm call, the Jefferson City News-Tribune reported. They discovered that both the historic church building and a newer one completed in the early 2000s had been struck by vandals.

Photos show what appear to be bullet holes and boot prints on the older building’s front door. Windows are smashed and an air-conditioning unit tipped on its side. Inside there are gaping holes in the walls, pews tipped over, toilets shattered, furniture smashed. Even the blades of the ceiling fans above the sanctuary are broken.

Callaway County Sheriff Clay Chism said Friday that a final monetary estimate of the damages is still pending, but it “is significant.”

Mt. Vernon was established by slaves in the early 1800s and later rebuilt in 1869, Pastor Gordon Coleman said in a Facebook post. The church celebrated its 150th birthday in 2016.

No arrests have been made.

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