Another Nashville church is speaking out Tuesday after surveillance cameras caught a vandal cut out the catalytic converter from one of its vans used to pick people up for service on Sundays.
Chief of security at Cathedral of Praise in Nashville, Wendell Mitchell, says several cameras caught the thief park on the side of the church, dart across the parking lot, then run away with the catalytic converter on his shoulder. Catalytic converters typically contain hundreds of dollars worth of metal.
"I think the individual that does something like that has a disregard for places of faith or any area where people are being helped," said Mitchell. "It takes a person of low character, low self-esteem to do what this individual has done."
Mitchell says the church has already replaced the catalytic converter and looking at ways to improve security.
Pastor Monterey Lee of Celebration Christian Center in Nashville believes the same person vandalized two of his vans. News4 viewer, Jamie Duncan, reached out within minutes of the story airing and wanted to help. She dropped off a check for $1,000 the following morning to cover the cost of the catalytic converters.
Police aren't able to say how many churches have been targeted, though Lee believes it's at least 15 within the last month.
ORIGINAL STORY from November 16, 2018:
A Nashville pastor says someone has vandalized vans at 15 churches across the metro in the last two weeks.
Monterey Lee is the pastor at Celebration Christian Center in North Nashville. He says someone cut the catalytic converter from both of his vans last week. Catalytic converters reduce emissions of three harmful compounds found in your car.
"When you turn it on it sounds like a freight train," said Lee
He uses the vans to deliver food to 100 families every week, pick up kids for the youth ministry, and pick up the elderly for church. He is now unable to use the vans and forced to use his personal vehicle. Volunteers are also helping drop off food and pick up members of his congregation, but says it's taking a hit on attendance.
"I'm just trying to figure out who would really want to hurt a church knowing what a church is doing? Who would want to hurt an outreach knowing what an outreach is doing...especially during the cold season," said Lee.
Lee says it costs at least 500 dollars a piece for new catalytic converters, and he simply doesn't have the money.
"It really hurts. It really hurts knowing that when you're trying you get hurt in the process to where you ask yourself the question of what do I do next? Where do I go from here." said Lee.
Lee says his church has raised half of the money to replace one of the catalytic converters, but he doesn't know how he'll cover the rest of the cost.
AFTER THE STORY AIRED: We received calls, messages, and voicemails from several viewers looking to cover the cost of the repairs and to make donations to the church. THANK YOU for your support and love.