QUINCY — The Rev. Susan F. Jarek-Glidden arrived just after noon Wednesday at the Quincy Community United Methodist Church to find decades-old stained-glass windows shattered, pews sprayed with shards of glass, the small pet graveyard in disarray, and a hole in the front lawn where a cobblestone embedded in the grass had been pulled out and presumably used to break in.
The gym on the second floor, where local children play basketball and Girl Scouts hold bake sales, looked like a tornado had ripped through it. A couch and several chairs were overturned, and a large watercolor painting hung askew, partly ripped off the wall.
“This was not just ‘chuck a rock and move on,’ ” Jarek-Glidden said. “This was deliberate and malicious.”
Nothing was stolen in the break-in, which Quincy police are investigating, said Captain John Dougan.
Unlike Jarek-Glidden, he thinks the vandalism was probably a random attack. Dougan said the break-in happened sometime between Tuesday night and early Wednesday.
In all, seven windows were broken, two of them stained glass put in when the church was renovated in 1952, Jarek-Glidden said.
The church had been broken into only one other time during her decade-long tenure at the Quincy church, she said. In December, a cash box holding $10, at most, and Jarek-Glidden’s laptop were stolen, she said. Police are still investigating that burglary.
On Thursday afternoon, the windows were boarded up. The cobblestone uprooted from the lawn lay next to a lectern in the basement room where the church holds meetings for recovering alcoholics and other events, near a thin trail of broken glass.
Jarek-Glidden and police believe the culprit or culprits broke in through a side door, knocking out its windows and reaching in to gain access. A newspaper from Wednesday morning was left on the landing, leaving Jarek-Glidden wondering if it had been placed there deliberately.
Jarek-Glidden said the culprit or culprits proceeded to the gym using the staircase at the landing. A door on the first floor leading to the chapel and the sanctuary appeared to be untouched, perhaps because of its large lock, she speculated. Jarek-Glidden said she was relieved there were no attempts to open it.
“They could have had a field day,” she said as she pushed open the door, which had been unlocked at the time of the break-in.
Joan Hickey stopped across the street to chat with an acquaintance about the break-in. Hickey, who has lived in Quincy for more than 50 years, said she’s gone to the church for a variety of fairs and sales over the years.
“Why would you do such a thing?” she asked. “People just don’t have enough to do.”
A strip of stores across the street has seen its share of burglaries over the years, several owners said, though generally they consider the area safe.
‘This was not just ‘‘chuck a rock and move on.’’ . . . This was deliberate and malicious.’
Margee Perez, the owner of a consignment shop, said her store has had four break-ins in the past 10 years, though not much of value was stolen. Perez said she could not understand why anyone would target a church.
“There’s got to be something that has to be sacred in life,” she said, shaking her head.
Perez, an animal lover, said she was particularly incensed that the plot where church members lay small painted stones in honor of their dead pets had been disturbed.
As for police discovering who did it, Jarek-Glidden was not optimistic.
“I doubt it,” she said. “What are the chances of people coming forward?”Oliver Ortega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ByOliverOrtega.