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YOU ARE DICING WITH DEATH, ARSONISTS ARE TOLD; Church congregation speaks out after latest attack on city church.

Byline: Simon Gilbert NEWS REPORTER

VANDALS are putting themselves and others in danger after setting fire to a church for the second time this year.

That was the message from the congregation at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, in Eastern Green, after their church building and adjoining hall was attacked by arsonists.

Three fire engines had to be called to the scene after vandals broke into the buildings in Luther Way and destroyed important papers, stole keys and torched church property.

The main church building is due to be demolished later this year but the church hall next door is still used on a regular basis.

Weekly services are held at the church hall every Sunday with worshippers travelling from as far afield as Leicester and Sheffield.

Carole Jeavons, church secretary for Good Shepherd, said: "It doesn't make me feel very Christian! They could be putting themselves in danger.

"The state of the church building is really awful so I would say to them just keep out, you are putting yourselves in a dangerous situation and infuriating the neighbours.

"It is very sad that what was a reasonably attractive building has deteriorated in such a way, but there is no alternative to demolition. However, we could have done without the input of the local youths."

The church was due to be demolished earlier this year, but Coventry City Council's planning committee deferred the decision until a bat survey had been carried out at the site.

There is now planning consent in place for the building to be demolished but the delays have meant further postponements for the project as the church had to begin the tendering process for building work again.

It is the second time the church has been targeted by vandals since planning consent to demolish the building was granted and the congregation fears there could be further attacks. Carole said: "We have boarded up the windows and the doors and done everything we can to keep them out. The police came after the latest break-in because we had to have all of the locks changed as a security measure because they went through the box of keys.

"This was the first time they got into the church hall, we thought we had done enough to keep them out of there, but obviously not.

"It's a nuisance and it upsets us and our neighbours who have been very helpful. In fact, one of them chased away some youngsters last week."

The police have asked residents to call 999 if they see any suspicious activity at the site.

CAPTION(S):

CLEAR-UP OPERATION: Geoff Gowers at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church after the latest arson attack
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 7, 2013
Words:446
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