Church vandals return to ask for forgiveness - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Church vandals return to ask for forgiveness

By Ben Watson - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Vandals returned to a Mid-South church Sunday, but instead of bringing spray paint and racial slurs, they brought an apology.
Sunday morning services at New Life Holiness Church in East Memphis became a lesson in forgiveness.

The two teenage boys who spray painted racial slurs on the exterior of the predominantly African American church returned to say they're sorry.

"And he stood up last Sunday morning, before all the congregation and said, 'would you all please forgive me?' And what a healing...that was an awesome service," said church member Tina Smith.

 The boys, Daniel and Cameron, have also offered to pick up trash and do other jobs around the church.

"They've embraced us, the young men and their families. They've come by, they have embraced us, asking 'what can we do to make this better,'" said Rev. Frederick Smith.

Church leaders say they felt racial tension from some neighbors when the congregation first moved to their current home five years ago. The church has been the target of vandals in the past.
But the graffiti left at the church two weeks ago moved many residents in the neighborhood to reach out to the congregation.

"God used it as a tool, you know, to kind of bring us together with this community," said Tina Smith. "Even the white community has reached out to us. They have been very caring."

And Rev. Smith says the congregation fully accepts the boys' apology.

"And we're not angry with the children. And I've met both young men, and both of them appear to be very kind young men," he said. "They just made a poor choice in their decision-making to do what they did two weeks ago."

 And in addition to attending church services, the teens are also getting involved in youth camp and other activities. 

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