BUTLER COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - The Bolling Methodist Church, now home to the Bolling Church Association, has weathered great change since its creation in 1888, but nothing quite like the vandalism reported this week.
Those who maintain the property found the windows shot out and smoke from the start of a fire that was set inside.
"As they broke the windows they pitched the hymnals out the windows", explained member Susan Barganier. "There are three places where they tried to start a fire."
Perhaps the most disturbing, a Satanic star was carved in one of the historic church pews, although Barganier said there's no evidence a cult ceremony took place inside. The imagery is a stark contrast to the connection Barganier and her family has to the church.
"We had our funerals, our weddings, baptisms, christenings, our revivals at this church, our homecomings here at this church," Barganier said of the major milestones she and many others have commemorated.
This is where we learned to love people, we learned about love, about grace, and forgiveness – and that's important," she added, fighting back tears.
Barganier remembers fundraising as a child for the special stained glass that's now shattered. Her father cut the pieces for the windows by hand.
"It's not the church building itself that's as important as the associations with the people we've made over the years that wouldn't have been possible without this building," Barganier stated.
The Association is dedicated to making the repairs and possibly expanding the building's purpose as a result of this incident.
Barganier gives this word of caution to parishioners.
"If [you] have a church in your lives in a rural area that's isolated, you need to watch it even more than we did," she explained. "Once a week isn't enough, two to three weeks would be far better. The sheriff's offices are pressed passed what they can do. They can't keep watch over these historic buildings."
The Butler County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident. So far, no arrests have been made.