A burned cross was found Tuesday morning at a Baptist church in Tennessee.
A church member of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church reported the fire and police were called to the scene at the mostly black church.
Sgt. Charles Gill, of the Clarksville Police Department, said the incident was a hate crime. There are no leads on the case, he said.
"Whoever did it, we forgive them," Pastor Vernon Hooks said Tuesday afternoon as he gathered with church members outside the church. "That's the message, that we are a forgiving church and we'll let the police do their job."
Hooks lives in Nashville and drove to Clarksville Tuesday.
There was no property damage other than the cross and scorch marks on the gate. Hooks said Tuesday that the church had not received any hateful messages or threats. He said he doesn’t know who may have burned the cross.
An incident like this has never happened, he added.
“I’d heard of this,” he said. “I’ve seen it perhaps at other churches, other buildings, but not in a million years did I think this would happen to New Hope because we are a close community.”
A prayer meeting is scheduled for today.
The church has 150 to 200 active members.
Publication Date: July 23, 2014