By Walt Hunter

CAMDEN, NJ (CBS) — The Pastor of a financially struggling Camden, New Jersey church and his congregation were stunned to learn that burglars broke through the rear wall of their church overnight, taking what they could carry up a ladder and into a rear yard.

Pastor David King says the burglars pried apart a brick wall to break-in. Rev. King adds that three times previously, thieves have stolen the air conditioning system for the Community Baptist Church on Mt. Ephraim Ave.

Bullet holes and break-in marks from past burglaries scar the church’s stained glass windows. The Pastor explains that sometimes, choir practice is drowned out by the roar of gun shots and, on several occasions, victims have been found on the ground outside.

So far, detectives who processed the crime scene have no description of the burglars.

“I feel so heartbroken, I do. I just want to cry,” Deaconess Ernestine August told CBS 3’s Walt Hunter as she prepared for Wednesday night’s Bible study class.

August explained the church provides food, clothing, as well as hope to residents of one of Camden’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

With each new crime, the financially burdened congregation faces a new crisis.

But, Rev. King explained, they plan to stay in this Camden neighborhood. The very crimes that victimize them, he says, are a clear sign from God that their help is needed here.

Camden County Police ask anyone with information on the church burglary to call their crime hotline at 856-757-7042.

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