Stained glass windows have been broken at two Cooke County United Methodist churches in the past two weeks.

The first incident was reported at Gainesville’s First United Methodist Church in early February.

The second occurred last week at Valley View’s United Methodist Church on West O’buch Street where church officials discovered a computer missing after a suspect apparently entered the church through a broken stained glass window.

“I got a call from one of our church members about 8:20 a.m. (Friday),” Pastor Scott Melton said. “We saw where someone had busted in one of our stained glass windows and rummaged through some things. One of the computers that operates the multi-media during our worship time was taken.”

Melton said he believes entering the church through the window was probably not an easy thing to do.

“It would’ve been a major undertaking,” he said, adding that the culprit had to first penetrate an extruded acrylic covering that had been put in place to protect the historic stained glass window.

The suspect also had to break through a plate glass window beneath the acrylic window to get to the stained glass.

“The stained glass window was broken in its lead frame,” he noted. “It would’ve been a lot easier to go through another window,” Melton said.

Melton said the stained glass window was from the congregation’s original church.

“It was over 100 years old,” he said.

Valley View police chief Jarrett Elting said the incident is under investigation.

“We’re working on a couple of leads,” he said.

Incidents such as the one at First United Methodist last week keep the small police force busy, he said.

Despite Valley View’s relatively small population, Elting said his police department receives over 100 calls a month.

The Valley View break-in happened about two weeks after a historic stained glass window on the south side of Gainesville’s First United Methodist Church on Denton Street was discovered broken.

Although listed as an incident of criminal mischief in a Gainesville Police Department media report, church secretary Mary Beth Newton said church officials were not certain how the incident happened or if it was vandalism.

“They (police officers) said a bird could’ve flown into it,” she said of the damage. “We really have no way of knowing.”

The First United Methodist Church windows are covered by a protective glass that is similar to the type of glass used in automobiles, she said.

“It breaks into little pieces like car glass so it doesn’t hurt anybody,” she explained.

She said the church tried to protect its windows using the same type of extruded acrylic product used at First United Methodist Church of Valley View, but the results were less than clear.

“They yellowed badly,” she said.

According to information from Debbie Boaz, an archivist, the church’s current sanctuary was built in 1892. The present structure is the second First Methodist Church of Gainesville.

Gainesville’s FUMC stained glass windows were installed in 1893 and were known as “catalogue windows” because church officials perused catalogues before ordering and selecting the windows of their choice.

The windows were made by the Wells Glass Company of Chicago and arrived in Gainesville Jan. 19, 1893.

At the time of the incident, Newton said the church planned to replace the window.

Melton said church leaders and the congregation plan to look into replacing the window.

“But I don’t know how replaceable it will be,” he said.

Reporter Delania Trigg may be

contacted at

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