A Windsor pastor says he's "saddened" after his church was vandalized this week for the second time in less than six months.
Travis Lacey believes both incidents may be the result of pent-up frustration at the local religious community, as some churches continue to hold gatherings in defiance of the province's stay-at-home order.
"I wish that we could have a conversation with them to clear up any misunderstandings," said Lacey, pastor at Heritage Park Alliance Church. The church is closed except for gatherings of 10 people or less, as per current provincial guidelines.
Lacey said church members arrived Tuesday morning to find glass doors at the side of the building had been smashed.
In December, a bike rack was found barricading the doors of the church.
Both incidents, Lacey said, felt like a message being sent to the community.
Lacey said he's reported the latest act of vandalism to LaSalle Police.
"We're not looking to be punitive. We're just looking more for reconciliation," said Lacey. "I think it's just good for the community to hear from churches and from the religious community that we're not here to criticize or to be a hindrance."
Const. Terry Seguin of LaSalle Police confirmed police are investigating but are not treating it as a hate crime.
"We've been fortunate out here to not have had to experience that or it's not been reported to police that there's been specifically hate crimes directed toward any of our religious institutions," said Seguin.
Police added they also have not received reports of religious institutions in LaSalle violating the province's COVID-19 rules.
We're not looking to press charges. We're not looking to be punitive. We're just looking more for reconciliation. - Pastor Travis Lacey, Heritage Park Alliance Church
Although Lacey said the incidents have shaken church members, he said the church has not felt the need to bring in additional safety measures or security.
He hopes whoever was behind the acts will be open to "have a conversation."
"I think when someone resorts to violence, it's because they feel that they're out of options and they feel that they're not being heard," said Lacey.
"I hope that this is not something that's going to escalate. I believe these are one-off acts of a person or two people who are just trying to find a voice."