Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Vandals cut cross off Lawrence’s Indian United Methodist Church

The wooden cross on the south side roof of Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church, 950 E. 21st St., was sawed off in a recent act of vandalism. The vandalism is thought to have occurred in the late hours of Sept. 6 or early morning hours of Sept. 7.

The wooden cross on the south side roof of Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church, 950 E. 21st St., was sawed off in a recent act of vandalism. The vandalism is thought to have occurred in the late hours of Sept. 6 or early morning hours of Sept. 7.

September 11, 2017, 5:03 p.m. Updated September 13, 2017, 10:55 a.m.


When Esther Harjo arrived last Thursday at the Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church to begin preparations for the congregation's monthly taco dinner, she thought she saw a body on the ground.

On closer inspection, Harjo saw it was the wooden cross that had been on top of the roof of the church at 950 E. 21st St.

“Someone had sawed it off,” she said.

Officer Drew Fennelly, of the Lawrence Police Department, said Monday that the vandalism occurred sometime between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday. The incident remains under investigation, he said. Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 785-843-TIPS or the police department at 785-832-7509.

Police are investigating after vandals cut down this cross from atop the Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church, 950 E. 21st St., late on Sept. 6 or early on Sept. 7, 2017.

Police are investigating after vandals cut down this cross from atop the Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church, 950 E. 21st St., late on Sept. 6 or early on Sept. 7, 2017.

The cross with its metal flame punctured the roof and caused damage to a gutter as it fell, Harjo said. The vandal used a bench that the church had put outside to get on the roof, she said.

As she counted the offerings after church services Sunday with fellow congregant Frances Girty, the two women concluded that the vandal’s apparent use of an electric saw indicated some planning behind the act. The motive behind the destruction was unclear.

The church serves mostly Native Americans and is part of the Oklahoma City-based Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, but Girty said she didn’t think the vandalism was done out of hostility toward Native Americans.

“I think it was religion,” she said. “We’ve been here 40 years and have only been vandalized once before.”

If someone was trying to send a threatening message to the congregation, it was a waste of time, Harjo said.

“I guess somebody wants our building not recognized as a church anymore, but that’s not going to happen,” she said.

The church has received support from other Lawrence congregations. It also has been in talks with a Lawrence roofer to replace the cross for free.

In a statement released Saturday, David Wilson, superintendent of Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, stated the Lawrence church was thankful for the support it received from the community.

“Whether a random act of destruction, or something more sinister directed specifically toward the Native American community, we will keep our perpetrators in prayer,” Wilson said. “We are thankful for the many who have offered to repair the damage and who have shown love and support to our native brothers and sisters in this challenging time.”

The news release states that the church does not yet have an estimate of the damages.

Meanwhile, normal activities continue at the church. The incident didn’t even stop the taco sale on the day the vandalism was discovered, Girty said. The dinners always do well, but Thursday’s sale benefited when a Native American Lawrence police officer brought many of his friends to the church for lunch, she said.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Frances Girty's name and the frequency of the taco sales.


Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 2 months, 1 week ago

This is not only unlawful, I consider it a hate crime. I hope it will be investigated as such. It is disgusting that anyone would do this to a church.

Lauren Summers 2 months, 1 week ago

I would be interested in any follow up story regarding where to make donations to fix it.

Greg Cooper 2 months ago

Just send a check to the church at the address listed in the story, with a memo indicating its purpose. All churches have the ability to restrict giving to a particular purpose, and I know they will be pleased to have your donation, and those of all of us.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 months, 1 week ago

The horrible fact that this sort of hatred and viciousness even exists in our community is unnerving. What sort of fool would hazard themselves in this act to enact their hatred and vicious attitudes? There is a lot to discover in this terrible act. Someone planned, schemed and committed this hateful crime. And also, if anyone witnessed this act and failed to call police, well, that person is as guilty as the criminals that committed the act.

James Canaday 2 months, 1 week ago

the commenter above asks where to send donations to help. it's kinda obvious. contact this church.

Bob Smith 2 months, 1 week ago

Look for the usual religion-haters on the port side of the aisle. Note to the vocabulary-challenged, port means left.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 months, 1 week ago

It could have been an evangelical. Many of them didn't consider Clinton a Christian, because she is and attends a United Methodist church. And they are fairly open minded to gay people and diverse people. When I taught Spanish, I had more than 1 student, evangelical students, who said that Catholics weren't Christians, which of course let to a mini lesson on the Reformation.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 months, 1 week ago

Interesting but not too difficult to believe. The one thing that really causes me a problem is people think you need to be a "Christian" to run for office, be a teacher, or to some extremists. to even be a citizen. These religious nutcases, (like the Westboro Baptist Church) are in plain view in a lot of what you read about the subject. They flaunt their "religion" as if it is a positive characteristic, yea verily a requirement for public service. We talk about the separation of church and state but far too many people use a person's religion to establish their character. Sad.

Bob Smith 2 months ago

Members of Congress have recently put the heat on Catholics who had been nominated for federal judge positions. Guess which party was conducting the grilling.

Richard Aronoff 2 months, 1 week ago

Here's the deal Dorothy: Jews don't recognize Jesus, Protestants don't recognize the Pope and Baptists don't recognize each other in the liquor store.

Now, before you launch, that joke was from a Prairie Home Companion Annual Joke Show before political correctness spread like a cancer across the country.

If you have a problem with it, send your strongly worded letter to NPR.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 months ago

Why would I have a problem with it? But I do have a problem with evangelicals saying that Clinton isn't a Christian, because she is a Methodist, or people saying that Catholics aren't Christians. 600 years ago, if you were a Christian, you were probably Catholic. The kids weren't joking; they were serious, whether in real ignorance, or whether they were lied to by their parents and church. Some evangelicals don't think that Clinton is a Christians, because she is a Methodist, even though the Methodists are one of the oldest Protestant sects. I don't think they were joking. And I'm not going to generalize all evangelicals. Some of them know better.

David Holroyd 2 months, 1 week ago

So where would a saw have been plugged in? Not to mention an extension cord needed. Most electric saws have a short cord.

Greg Cooper 2 months ago

Uh, some electric saws are battery powered, David. And what the heck does that have to do with anything, anyway? Are you, as usual, trying to say that the story is false, or it didn't happen, or what? Totally useless comment.

Shane Powers 2 months, 1 week ago

This is obviously a "left vs right" issue, Bob. No right-winger would ever do something so un-Christianly as carry a Nazi flag, chant "Jews will not replace us," or threaten violence on their enemies. I'm so glad you were here to give us your $.02, and a lesson in nautical vocabulary to boot!

John Kyle 2 months ago

.....or commit violence in a non-white church or non-christian place of worship.

Michael Kort 2 months, 1 week ago

Saws can be powered by hand, be cordless reciprocating demolition type saws or even be chain saws .

Lots of saw possibilities .

But one thing is for's LOSERS AT WORK !

MerriAnnie Smith 2 months, 1 week ago

It'll be interesting to hear more about this if more info comes out. It could be both a dislike of Indians AND religion, or it could just be someone with mental problems. No way to know why unless he tells us.

David Holroyd 2 months, 1 week ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 months ago

Battery powered is electrical, it just gets electricity from batteries.

David Holroyd 2 months, 1 week ago

ok, my bad..a bench was used and the cross was on the ground...they didn;t have any way to haul it? ....

Greg Cooper 2 months ago

Why do you keep this up, David? Are you so enamored with seeing your name in print that you can't stop?

Bob Summers 2 months ago

After extensive research, it is apparent this defiling of religious grounds is the work of an ANTIFA lone wolf that has been inspired by ANTIFA terrorism from around the country. The tell tail behavior of this horrendous act is apparent in multiple sites around the country.

The last hope for the civil society is vigilance.

David Holroyd 2 months ago

Why do you read my posts,,Mr. Cooper...btw ru real?

And the article said "electric saw". NOT battery operated. And why Nick is my previous post deleted...??

Greg Cooper 2 months ago

Uh, I read posts, even yours, to gain a knowledge of the thinking of the folks who post. I learn things that i might not have known by reading these posts, even yours. Many of the things I learn are that some folks haven't got a clue. Some things I learn are new and enlightening. Some things I learn are that there are times when people with differing opinions can come to a consensus after reading another's ideas. Also, I read most of your posts, David, because they amuse me. Take that for what it's worth.

Now, would you be so kind as to let me know what kind of energy batteries produce if it's not electricity? Now, follow this closely: batteries use a variety of reagents which, in reaction with one another or with an outside stimulus, create a current, commonly called electricity. Other forms of electricity are created by lightning bolts, fuel-fired generators, some liquid/metal reactions, and, by golly, by our own bodies.

The point, David, is that it might be good of you to quit the President Chump way of posting stuff that has no relationship to reality or that you don't understand. Enough said?

And, am I real? That is an existentialist question that maybe can be answered in many ways, but, as I understand it, you're asking if I actually exist as a sentient human being. To that, I can give you a resounding, "You bet, pilgrim". I can't fathom why you'd even consider asking that question, other than that you have no conception that any human might argue with your impeccable logic, but maybe that's a subject left for another forum.

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