MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The congregation at Smyrna Baptist Church in Maryville is moving forward after the building suffered vandalism and burglary.

On May 13, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office responded to the church where they found what they estimate to be $200,000 worth of damage. Two 12-year-old boys were charged with felonies in the burglary and vandalism of Smyrna Baptist and two nearby homes.

When Pastor Andy Nichols arrived at the church the night of May 13, he was not the only one. Members of the congregation were there and ready to help as much as they could.

“I thank each and everyone that worked and stayed long hours, and it’s amazing what it looked like the next morning because when we went in that night we thought it would be impossible but there was people here that believed, and that’s what it takes is we must believe,” Nichols said.

Despite the extensive damage, the church was open for Sunday service the next morning.

“That night we got in about 12:30 a.m. and we all worked until somewhere around 3:30 in the morning,” Nichols said. “We were back here at 10:00 a.m. for Sunday school, with a church that was partially put back together.”

Broken windows, turned-over pews, and a destroyed piano did not discourage Nichols from carrying on as usual. Some members of the church even reached out to the families of the two boys and invited them to attend the service.

“I don’t have anything bad to say about those that done what they did. We love them, we just hope that they come to know Jesus Christ,” Nichols said.

As for making repairs, Nichols said he is confident it will all work out.

“In this situation, it was evil that overcame but God’s going to work it for the good,” he said.

Nichols also said that other churches in Tennessee and out-of-state reached out and offered help and that he installed additional security cameras to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

The two boys were charged on May 23 and then appeared in county juvenile court on May 25. Police say that one boy was released into his mother’s custody, but the other was held for an additional week because of his behavior in court.

The Blount County Sheriff’s Department said the boys were both charged with:

  • Two counts of aggravated burglary
  • One count of vandalism $60,000 – $250,000
  • One count of vandalism under $2,500
  • One count of vandalism under $1,000