A 1921 tent revival led a group of Christians in 1922 to form a church now know as Baptist Tabernacle Church on Highway 231 in northern Johnston County. A new church sanctuary was built in 1972 and the church today has nearly 450 members.
The rich history of the rural church has recently been overshadowed by two thefts at Baptist Tabernacle that resulted in the loss of $54,000.
On August 5th, church members discovered where someone had stolen 5 HVAC units valued at $42,000. On September 29th, another three units were damaged or stolen, resulting in a loss of $12,000.
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office is investigating both thefts but have not said if they think they are related.
Pastor Glen Brock told WTSB News the thefts have created some financial issues for the church. Brock said the church was insured but insurance deductibles had to be paid following both losses.
After the first theft, Brock said the church installed steel posts, gates, and lights but it did not prevent the second theft.
“I am of the opinion, locks, gates and lights are only going to deter those people who are honest,” Rev. Brock said. “If you intend to steal something you will figure out a way. It is really sad, but it is what it is. We have to pick up and move on and not be deterred.”
Rev. Brock said stealing is wrong and it speaks volumes about where we are as a society today when someone would steal from a place of worship. And if Rev. Brock could send a message to those who stole from his church, he replied, “To those who have taken these units and continue to take these units, we need to pray for those individuals, because they are truly struggling and they have a demon working on them pretty hard.”
There have been at least 13 thefts from churches in Johnston County this year, including the theft of three HVAC units on Oct. 8th from Fellowship Freewill Baptist Church at 3750 US Highway 301, Selma. It will cost about $12,000 to replace the units.
Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell held nothing back when asked to comment about criminals who target churches. “It’s sad when thieves stoop so low as to steal from God’s house,” Sheriff Bizzell told WTSB News. “In this case, they stole air conditioner parts that took away the ability of people in this community to worship comfortably in their church. However, where these thieves are going, they’re gonna wish they had air conditioning!”
Rev. Brock said anyone who would like to send a donation to assist the church with insurance deductibles can mail contributions to:
Baptist Tabernacle Church
1599 NC 231 Highway
Wendell, NC 27591
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-934-6789.