Test of faith: Pastor fed up with thefts

THE senior pastor of an Albury church says his sacred place has become a target for thieves and he’s had enough.

Two fridges and a barbecue Senior Pastor Philip Morton was fixing — destined for families in need — were stolen from the back of the Albury Church of God last Wednesday.

It was Mr Morton’s tipping point after two years of constantly repairing damage and finding goods missing.

“As a Christian, and as church pastor, I endeavour to always live according to how we have been taught through God’s word; this includes having a forgiving heart, loving our neighbours and going the extra mile,” he said.

“I must admit these attributes become a little harder to adhere to when the church that I pastor is consistently the target.”

Mr Morton, a pastor of 30 years, said it all started two years ago. First video and sound equipment were stolen, then front windows were damaged, sheds were broken into and a caravan in the backyard had its door ripped off.

He said the community was the victim.

“We’re a church that tries to help the community where possible and it limits what we can do,” he said.

He said the church is no longer sacred.

“They were at one time. Not these days,” he said.

“One of the things missing in society is respect for people, the respect for property. The church are seen as soft touches.”

Mr Morton stood out the front of the non-descript church on Urana Road. The two front windows behind him were boarded up. He couldn’t afford to fix them after they were smashed.

There’s no steeples here and the 50-year-old building is faded yellow with the sun. A verandah sweeps down its side into an open yard. It looks like a church from the Pacific Islands rather than one in Lavington.

Mr Morton said it was sometimes “standing room only” at his services but the usual attendance was about 40 people.

He said his was a hard-working community, one he never lost faith in, despite the regular set-backs.

“All you can do is try to help them and get their lives turned around,” he said.

“It’s like an oil well — the further you drill, the closer you get to oil. It’s the same with people.”

Pastor Philip Morton has taken to boarding up the church windows after a spate of thefts. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

Pastor Philip Morton has taken to boarding up the church windows after a spate of thefts. Picture: KYLIE ESLER