AYER -- Church leaders are befuddled after their sacred space was vandalized earlier this week.
Why would someone damage several items and light all of the candles on a shrine, they wonder.
While the shock remains, the lay leader at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church said last Friday they would open the church to the community the following Saturday.
According to a press release issued by the church on Monday, members of the Altar Guild and neighboring churches helped clean and repair the damaged sanctuary for a Service of Reconsecration held last Sunday. Reverend Joyce Scherer-Hoock blessed each damaged item during the service while the congregation read Psalm 27.
"We won't let evil take hold of us," said the lay leader, Isabel Geller.
The church has grown in the last year, with average Sunday attendance rising from 50 to 70 people.
Geller is anticipating a lot of people at the church this weekend.
"We don't feel we can celebrate our service until everything has been blessed again," she said.
The community was invited last Saturday to the church, which is located at 7 Faulkner St. in Ayer.
A reconsecration service was held on Sunday.
Police have been seeking the public's help in finding out who broke into the church, damaged several items and lit all of the candles on a shrine Wednesday morning.
At around 10:30 a.m., Ayer Police responded to St. Andrew's for a breaking and entering.
After arriving on scene, officers found that a front door had been forced open and several items had been thrown around and damaged inside. Among the vandalized items, the perpetrator(s) lit all of the candles on a shrine inside the church, which were still burning when officers arrived.
"When a place of worship is victimized, it's a disturbing event not only for the parishioners, but also for the community as a whole because of their close connections to the neighborhoods they are in," Ayer Police wrote on social media.
"We are asking that if anyone has any information, no matter how insignificant you may think it is, please private message us here or call Det. Barhight at 978-772-8200 ext. 507."
Deputy Chief Brian Gill said on Tuesday that the case is still being "actively investigated by Detective Barhight" and that evidence is being analyzed with the help of the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab.