‘Our church family is devastated:’4 churches vandalized in Laurens Co., church members speak out

Two Charged After Churches Vandalized
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 5:40 PM EDT
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LAURENS, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Two suspects appeared in bond court after they were charged for the vandalism of four churches.

Officials said the vandalism occurred Friday morning to the following four churches: Cedar Grove Baptist Church, New Prospect Baptist Church, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and Reedy Grove Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Sierra Lynn Smith and Jesse James Hawkins.
Sierra Lynn Smith and Jesse James Hawkins.(Laurens County Sheriff's Office)

The suspects Sierra Lynn Smith and Jesse James Hawkins were both charged with the following:

  • Three counts each of burglary second degree
  • Four counts each of malicious injury to a place of worship
  • One count petit larceny
  • One count arson/attempt to burn.

At the bond hearing, church members expressed how they felt about what occurred to their churches.

“Our church family is devastated to come in and find fellowship building windows were busted, the church windows were pried open, historical church documents that cannot be replaced they are gone and we cannot replace this. Mount Pleasant is the oldest church in Laurens County,” said Melissa Crenshaw a Mount Pleasant church member.

Crenshaw said Pastor Joshua Harris’s office and the sanctuary were vandalized, and the safe and doors were busted.

“The most devastating part, because you can replace things, was the fact that an upside down cross was left for us to find,” said Crenshaw.

“It’s a tragedy we all have to go through this,” said Hoyt Dorn of Reedy Grove Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Both Smith and Hawkins were given a $77,125 surety bond.

Two suspects appeared in bond court after four churches were vandalized on Friday morning.

This is all the information we have at this time. We will update this article when we learn more.