New Mexico Church Slow to Recover From Break-in

The front entrance of Crownpoint (N.M.) CRC was damaged in a break-in.
Darlene Silversmith
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Editor’s note: This story, originally published Sept. 3, 2021, has been updated to reflect the actual date of the break-in and to clear up a misunderstanding about coverage of the damage costs. 

Ten months after their church building was burglarized, members of Crownpoint (N.M.) Christian Reformed Church on the Navajo Reservation replaced doors and reinforced windows at the front entrance. The repairs had to be delayed because of pandemic lockdowns on the reservation to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Mary Rose Davis, an elder of the church who lives nearby, discovered the break-in in November 2020 and contacted Betty Bennett, a deacon. They left things as they were and contacted the police. Further damage was discovered the next day. The police investigation concluded without leads on suspects. “The church members were devastated,” Darlene Silversmith, a member who is licensed to exhort within Classis Red Mesa, said. 

The “thieves stole Crownpoint CRC’s sound system and 60-inch TV,” Silversmith said. The thieves also damaged the front door, which has now been replaced. And church members covered large front windows with plywood to discourage vandalism. 

The estimated cost of the damage and stolen items was $6,000, which the church was not able to recover. Classis Red Mesa (regional group of churches) supported Crownpoint CRC with a $2,500 grant for church renovations.

Bennett said a couple from the church purchased and installed motion-sensitive lights as a precaution.

The sound equipment has not been replaced, but Crownpoint CRC is borrowing a small sound system to use during services. 

The Navajo Nation has been in lockdown since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and only recently changed the restriction status to “orange,” meaning that 15 people could gather indoors at a time. Crownpoint CRC resumed worship services with that many people July 18 and has continued since then. The full congregation is about 30 people. Those unable to meet indoors can listen outside in their cars through a radio transmitter. 

“The church intends to carry on by not allowing the burglary to prevent them from attending. Crownpoint’s congregation will even meet outside from time to time,” Silversmith said.

About the Author

DeAndra Valdez is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Albuquerque, N.M.