Bishop Samuel Hogan looked at the busted furnace through which thieves entered his church, and shook his head.
“We just wish they wouldn’t touch the church — we only have a few things,” the bishop told the Herald. “We’re just praying for the people who did it.”
A couple of weeks ago, one or more burglars hit the Good Shepherd Church of God in Christ on Whittier Street in Roxbury. They took a panel off of the furnace that’s next to the unassuming brick church just off of Tremont Street and climbed into the church’s basement through a vent. Then the thieves ransacked the bottom floor, grabbing copper wiring, a TV and pieces of office equipment before scooting right out back through the furnace — stealing and destroying parts of it along the way.
So the church and its parishioners are left out in the cold — and out around $30,000 in damage — as the holiday season approaches, with no heat on the lower floor through Thanksgiving and heading toward Christmas, times when the church would normally be having more functions and events for the community.
“If anybody could help, we would be glad for it,” Hogan said, noting an already strong community response. “Whatever people can do, that would be much appreciated — and if they can’t do anything, then we appreciate their prayers.”
Bill Moran, a Roxbury native who’s a friend of the bishop, has been wrangling businesses to come to assistance. He said the response has been tremendous: Dellbrook Construction’s donating paint and other materials to fix up the inside; Feldco Development has chipped in some cash; Suffolk Construction has added some manpower.
“Everyone’s trying to help to get the church back up and running,” said Moran, a business consultant who’s getting young people from his local mentoring program to help out. “This is what we’re supposed to do — we’re supposed to come together as a community.”
Paris McLean, an electrician who was helping out around the church Tuesday morning, said he’s happy to assist.
“This church pumps a lot of people through it — helps a lot of people out,” McLean said.
The two-story church currently sits between active construction sites. In front of it, across Whittier Street, backhoes rumbled as crews worked on a large new development that’s an overhaul of the public-housing projects that have long sat there. Around the back, a small crane swung around a big box full of material as people did work on the collection of schools there.
The church has been at that 18 Whittier St. address since the 1960s, and Hogan’s been there for four decades. They’ve been hit before — people have stolen all sorts of things, including musical instruments — so the bishop and Moran look forward to boosting the security and adding lights to what’s become a very dark corner.
Moran said he’s working with the city to try to put up a fence behind the church, and the IBEW is going to put in some cameras to monitor the outside. He hopes to be substantially done by Christmas.
Hogan said the church had a dinner early in the week downstairs. It was cold, but they managed.
Of the thieves, he said, “We figure somebody’s in need.”