KAILUA-KONA — An Ocean View church was tagged with graffiti last week and again over the weekend, congregation members said Monday.
St. Jude’s Episcopal Church, located on Paradise Circle, is regularly plagued by theft and criminal property damage. Congregation member Richard Burt said the building is vandalized monthly.
Over the past two weekends, the outside of the church’s sidewalks and sign were tagged with blue spray paint. Burt said this Saturday the graffiti was found on the concrete ground of the front of the church.
“It’s a continuous nuisance,” Burt said. “We try to serve the community and this is the thanks we get from a couple of people.”
Hawaii Police Maj. Robert Wagner confirmed St. Jude’s has a history of vandalism, theft, and break-ins. He noted the church’s willingness to help others, such as by offering hot showers and meals, may be attracting “some undesirables” to the area.
“Combined that with the somewhat isolated location, lack of security and the obvious has been occurring constantly at that location,” Wagner said.
Steve Stigall is junior warden at St. Jude’s. He is responsible for caring for the facilities and grounds. On Monday, he said the graffiti was brought to his attention during worship service on Sunday.
“My initial reaction was anger and sadness, simply because the church does so much outreach to the community,” Stigall said.
St. Jude’s has been in Ocean View since around 1976. Burt said it is a congregation-run church with guest priests who provide Sunday morning worship service.
For the past five years, the church has provided a hot shower and soup program.
“Anyone who’d like to take a hot shower they can and if they want a bowl of soup, they can have one,” Stigall said.
The church also provides a senior feeding program and a computer lab where people can use the internet and charge their devices. Several 12-step groups also use the building.
While the damage is disheartening, Stigall said he’s not going to let it deter him from the church’s mission.
“There’s been quite a bit of community outrage and there are people who want to come to the church to clean it up,” the junior warden said. “The community is coming together. I’m seeing this as a positive.”
At the same time, Stigall doesn’t want those responsible to think tagging a church is OK, suspecting juveniles as the culprits.
“There really isn’t a lot of things out here to keep kids in constructive activities — they’re left to their own devices,” he said. “We, as adults, need to keep an eye out on the kids to make sure they’re not getting into trouble.”
Any time there is vandalism or theft, it comes out of the pockets of the congregation. A couple other recent incidences of crime at St. Jude’s Burt recalled Monday were a broken door and 10 out of 12 planted protea plants stolen.
“We take care of one another and what needs to be done,” Burt said, who’s been a member since 1978.
St. Jude’s is not the only church that has sustained damage in recent weeks. On Dec. 23, Hope Chapel Kona, located at Makua Lani Christian Academy’s high school campus, was vandalized with seven windows broken out and two buildings spray-painted.
Nothing was stolen.
There was also a rash of vandalism at Captain Cook businesses reported on Christmas Day. The worst was at Qina Girl Floral where a window had been broken out and the inside ransacked.
Other businesses that had damage reported on Christmas Day were Captain Cook Mini Mart and Fil-Am General Store.
On Monday, Wagner said, there were no leads in the vandalism of Hope Chapel Kona and Captain Cook businesses.
Anyone with information about the vandalism cases should call police at 935-3311.