Vandal floods Christian Orthodox church in Linda Vista

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Father John Reimann received a call early Thursday afternoon that the church he heads in Linda Vista, St. Anthony’s Antiochene Orthodox Church, had been damaged by a vandal. Reimann immediately feared that the brand new iconography painted all over the sanctuary’s ceiling – completed just two weeks earlier – might be destroyed.

The reality was less dire, but Reimann still wondered why someone – perhaps more than one person – had deliberately left a pipe running overnight near the front door of the church, allowing the water to seep in and flood the 2,500 square foot building.

“There was an inch of water inside the whole church,” Reimann said.

Foam soccer balls helped hold the pipe in place, while a laminated poster helped prevent water from seeping under the door.

(Courtesy of Father John Reimann)

The manager punched a driveway door, connected two pipes that were already on the church grounds, and glued the nozzle near the front door, securing it in place with small foam soccer balls, a said Reimann. The person placed a laminated poster near the threshold, which apparently helped water seep under the door and into the building.

This happened between Wednesday evening, when church staff were last in the building, and Thursday morning at the church on Merton Avenue just off Linda Vista Road, in an area south of Kearny. High School.

“We just recently finished with some really nice ornate iconography on the ceiling,” Reimann said. “When the guard called me and told me we had been vandalized, I feared the worst.

Instead, the damage was limited to the marble floors – Reimann said the marble came from a quarry in today’s Turkey near the ancient Greek city of Antioch, hence the Antioch Orthodox Church gets its name – as well as oriental rugs, church pews and some other furniture and the bottom of most walls.

Fans were placed around St. Anthony's Antiochian Orthodox Church on Friday in an attempt to dry the floors after a flood caused by a vandal.

Dozens of fans were placed on floors around St. Anthony’s Antiochene Orthodox Church in Linda Vista on Friday after a vandal flooded the shrine on Wednesday evening or early Thursday.

(Sandy Huffaker / SDUT)

Church worshipers in St. Anthony, members of other local churches and a water reduction company worked Thursday and Friday to drain water and dry floors and furniture in hopes of organizing normal services. Sunday.

Pollution control specialists operated nearly 70 fans and 15 dehumidifiers on Thursday and Friday. An appraiser had not yet come out on Friday to assess the cost of the damage.

“We’ll probably have to cut drywall,” Reimann said. “But luckily the damage was not what it could have been.”

Fans were placed around St. Anthony's Antiochian Orthodox Church on Friday in an attempt to dry the floors after a flood caused by a vandal.

Fans were placed around St. Anthony’s Antiochene Orthodox Church in Linda Vista on Friday to dry to the ground after flooding caused by a vandal.

(Sandy Huffaker / SDUT)

The main altar at the front of the nave – the central part of the sanctuary – is raised a few steps so that water has not reached it, Reimann said. Other liturgical furniture, such as icon stands, a candle holder, and an alms box, were handcrafted in Europe and Russia and “appeared to be immune to damage, even though they were seated in it. water, ”Reimann said.

The pastor reported the vandalism to San Diego Police on Friday night, Reimann said, adding that the parish council was meeting Friday night to discuss security improvements, in part because poor surveillance cameras “were unable to capture anything”.

Orthodox Christians see themselves as part of a religion directly related to the Church of the Apostles of Jesus Christ established after his death, and from which the Roman Catholic Church broke away in the 11th century. With such deep and historical roots, Reimann said followers of the religion know that trials like this are a chance to show faith and “call on the power of God.”

To the person who vandalized the church, Reimann said, “We pray for them. We would like them to come join us and see the beauty … We pray for the mercy of God, the love of God and the forgiveness of God for them.

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