Historic Fort Mill church’s cemetery vandalized

Vandals damage historic church cemetery

FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Someone vandalized a historic church cemetery in Fort Mill earlier this week.

Jim Price is the steward of the cemetery at Philadelphia United Methodist Church. He says the church has been located along Highway 160 for nearly 200 years. The land behind the current model of the church was donated in the 1950s to be used as a cemetery, he says.

When he was doing some maintenance on the property Wednesday he noticed the brick columns surrounding the cemetery were damaged.

“Some of the crosses were removed or stolen and some were found laying on the ground,” Price said.

He and two other church members spent a week building and designing a prop to illustrate the tomb Christ resurrected from for their church services on Easter morning. He says after service it was stored outside to be used each year, but that was also destroyed.

“It’s not a situation where lots and lots of money has been lost by it, but just the desecration of something considered to be holy,” Price said. “We had no idea someone would just tear it up.”

According to a spokesperson for the York County Sheriff’s Office, there aren’t any leads on who may have damaged the church property.

Billy D. plays basketball at the church during the week. He says he often sees litter and people loitering on the grounds.

“I actually saw a homeless man over here one day when I was playing basketball,” Billy said.

He says it comes down to the principle that everyone should have been taught as a child.

“Don’t come out here and destroy other people’s property,” Billy said. “Think of it as yours. I’m pretty sure you don’t want your home destroyed.”

Price says the crosses will have to be manufactured and replaced into the brick columns. Church members will have to start from scratch on the Easter display.

“It’s nobody understanding the value of things that are used to spread the ministry of Christ around our community,” Price said.

He says the church’s Board of Trustees will review the church’s security, but he wants to ensure the grounds are still welcoming to anyone in the community.

“We want our church and our property to be accessible to people. That’s what church is about,” Price said.

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