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Henry County Church Heaters Destroyed by Thieves

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

HENRY COUNTY, Tenn.- Paris police are investigating a theft of copper tubing that was taken from three separate heating and air conditioning units behind the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Paris.

Just as temperatures are expected to drop well below normal, Senior Pastor Andre Richardson told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that thieves stripped copper from the three heating and air units over the weekend.

Officers said from the outside, the units look fine, because the thieves took time to put the outside casings back together. Now the church's Youth Dance Praise Ministry practice, as well as every other services held in the building are at risk. Church officials said how long members will be able to meet in the building without heat will depend on the weather.

"It's hurtful when you see a church that is trying to impact the community, trying to help the lives of young people as well as our senior citizens and really try to spread the gospel and the message of love," Richardson said. "As I understand, on the black market the technician that came and investigated told me that at best they got $30 out of each unit, at best just $30. The extent of the damage is way beyond $30."

Church officials said when the thieves took out all of the copper tubing, they destroyed each unit. They said the total damage is estimated to be worth more than $16,000 dollars. Church members said they are unsure how they will afford to replace the units. The congregation of more than 200 people use the building to worship, practice and prepare for projects that give back to the community, according to members.

"We have our practices here for the kids," said member Katrina Teague. "We will have to find somewhere else to meet until they get the units fixed. We are going to pray we know the lord he will take care of us we'll continue to meet and do what he have to do,"
Members said the theft is a test of their faith and determination.

"We are going to pray we know the lord he will take care of us we'll continue to meet and do what he have to do," said Teague.

Church members said they are unsure how they will afford to replace the units. If you would like to help, email the church's pastor at mtzionrev@aol.com
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