Van stolen from Hermitage church, insurance company notices local trend targeting churches

First Baptist Church of Hermitage Facebook

A Hermitage church is asking for help after someone stole one of their vans, just one week before Christmas. A FOX 17 News investigation reveals they are not the only midstate church being targeted this year.

The First Baptist Church sits on a busy section of Central Pike in Hermitage.

"This street never sleeps because there's so many houses and apartments around us,” First Baptist Pastor Chris Dickens said.

Which makes a stolen church van even more shocking for Pastor Chris Dickens.

“So whoever did this, they had to be fast,” the pastor said.

Dickens said two vans sat locked in front of the church Friday. The keys were locked inside the church, which was not broken into.

As church-goers showed up for Sunday morning services yesterday, there was only one van in the lot.

FOX 17 News confirmed that the church made an official report with Metro Police.

"It just makes it hard because first, you feel violated because you don't know how it's happened,” Pastor Dickens said. “You also know that should we have to have repairs on this particular vehicle, we've got no back up, which is going to leave a lot of our people without a way to and from services."

Dickens said out of their 40-45 members, nearly 1/3 of them rely on the vans to get to and from church services.

The insurance company for First Baptist told FOX 17 News they have received several claims from local churches for stolen church vehicles in recent months.

"It saddens me that we've sunk so low that people really want to rip off God's house, but at the same time, it also makes me just want to pray for the people, because you're never so far away from God that he can't bring you back,” Dickens said.

Since the stolen van is an older, 1994 model, the money the church gets back won’t be enough to buy a new vehicle.

"So if they'll bring it back, we'd like to show the same love and grace that Christ would've had,” Pastor Dickens said. “Just bring it back, and you can walk away."

The pastor said there are no official fundraising efforts set up at this time.

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