Church Damaged by Snowfall Gets Hit Again by Thieves

Neighbors say the burgularies add insult to injury

By Derrick Ward
|  Sunday, Feb 28, 2010  |  Updated 7:35 PM EDT
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Church Damaged in Blizzard Vandalized

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Church Damaged in Blizzard Vandalized

The Joshua Temple in Northeast Washington, that suffered a roof cave in because of the snow, was robbed of copper pipes.
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There's a chain link fence around the Joshua Temple. The northeast DC church has been condemned since the first week of February, when the weight of the massive snowfall that blanketed our area brought the roof crashing down.

There hasn't been a worshiper inside the church since then, but thieves and vandals have visited.

Sometime over the last week, they got into the basement and stole the church's copper plumbing.

The graffiti left by vandals isn't visible anymore, with the plumbing gone, the basement has flooded floor to ceiling with murky green water.

The copper theft happened in broad daylight.

"We remember the truck pulling up," said Eugene Brown, who runs the Big Chair Chess Club out of a house next to the church. Brown said he and other neighbors thought it was a legitimate contractor clearing the site. "It just adds insult to injury," he added.

"Our spirits are not broken," said Rev. Thson Rowe. Since the roof collapse, his congregation has been meeting at a church across town. Asked if this was a set back to re-opening the church, Rowe said "we're still standing and we're still standing strong, we're gonna survive."

Rowe says other churches in the neighborhood have been helping out, establishing a building fund for Joshua Temple. The building is more than a hundred years old, and part of a "Heritage Trail" walking tour of the historic Deanwood community that spans far Northeast and part of the Southeast quadrant of the District, near the border with Maryland.

The front of the church remains largely intact and the steeple and bell remain in place,

Rev. Rowe hopes to make them part of a new church structure on the same lot; he even hopes to expand with the new building. He remains undaunted by the setbacks.

After securing the entrance to the basement of the old church and stepping over the yellow caution tape that surrounds the building he said of the situation, "it's just a test."

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