Vandals strike historic Montco church cemetery

UPPER HANOVER TWP., Pa. - August 24, 2010

Established in 1727, the cemetery at the New Goshenhoppen United Church of Christ is as historic as it is beautiful.

"It has been a place people have come for centuries to remember the dead in faith. It is a sacred ground," said The Rev. Deborah Rahn Clemens.

That's what makes this vandalism case all the more appalling. Dozens of headstones, some dating back to the late 1700's, have been toppled and desecrated.

Members of this small congregation have already decided to take it upon themselves to pay for the repairs.

"We're going to get an estimate on it. We can fix some of them ourselves," said church member Tim Gross. "I would say there's a couple of thousand dollars worth of damage there."

For centuries, this cemetery has been an open place for anyone wanting to pay respects, pray, or simply reflect. That's why church officials say they're still opposed to installing security measures like fences, alarms, and surveillance cameras.

With that said, the church's pastor has this message for those responsible.

"It pains us that this is the kind of thing that would bring you joy. But, we don't hate you, we're not out to get you. We would just appreciate if you would respect this place in the future," said Clemens.

The authorities, meantime, are not as willing to forgive. They're asking anyone with information to call State Police at (610) 584-1250.

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