Pastor’s Response to Burned Cross Outside Church: “Whoever Did It, We Forgive Them.”

Vernon Hooks is the pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, a church in Clarksville, Tenn. where a burned cross was discovered on Tuesday morning. The church, just outside of Nashville, has a mostly black congregation and anywhere from 100 to 200 members, one of whom contacted Hooks when they saw the cross. “It was devastating,” Hooks told USA Today. “I was somewhat hurt, but then I took time out to ask God to forgive whoever did this.”

“Whoever did it, we forgive them,” Hooks told reporters while gathered with various church members. “That’s the message, that we are a forgiving church and we’ll let the police do their job.”

It’s been classified as a hate crime, but the case is murky. “It was assigned to a detective, but we have no leads,” said Sgt. Charles Gill of the Clarksville Police Department. “We’ve got nothing” …

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