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Father, son arrested for burglarizing church that helped them

Police in West Monroe, La., say a father and son sought benevolent help from the White’s Ferry Road church — then stole from it.
The church was hit twice: once on April 5, when cash taken from the church office and damages totaled $6,500, and a second time on April 12. Church leaders notified police about the crimes.
An arrest affidavit said Ronald Layne Rowton, 57, and Preston Layne Rowton, 23, both described as homeless, became suspects after the second burglary.
The 850-member church had been helping the men for several months. Minister Mike Kellett said they came in November asking for food and a place to stay in the building. He worked with the family, including driving the men to several job opportunities. Additionally, a church member hired them to do a remodeling job for three months.
“They came to my house church meetings several times, and I shared the gospel with them,” said Kellett. “I think they were trying to do good for a while, even though they had a drug and alcoholic background.”
Preston Rowton, who is on probation for possession of stolen goods and aggravated burglary, told police he and his father committed the church burglaries, the affidavit said. They were booked April 13 at the Ouachita Correctional Center in Monroe, La., on bonds of $30,000 each.
Kellett said the church has a jail ministry, and he thinks those involved will follow up on further teaching opportunities with the men.
“We were disappointed, but we’ve seen this before, and we feel good that we gave them an opportunity to hear the gospel and to come out of that kind of life,” Kellett said.
Does the church plan to change any of its benevolence policies?
“No,” Kellett said. “We try to be wise in how we help people, but you are never going to practice Christianity in a risk-free environment.”

  • Feedback
    An opportunity to show kindness and love and provide for the needs of others is all about doing what Christ would have us do without question or pasing judgement. The church has always been benevolent to those in need and it is surely rare that something like this happens.
    Darlene Beeler
    Farmington Church of Christ
    Fayetteville, AR
    June, 26 2009

    Love, forgiveness, all that, but, let me say: breaking into a church building is scummy behavior. Robbing a church that helped you is incredibly despicable. While we preach grace, mercy, etc., let us remember to condemn sin and the atmosphere of greed that produces such reprehensible actions for this, too, is love.
    April, 27 2009

    I just don’t believe that being benevolent renders churches more succiptable to crimes. Criminals do not think like normal people think. Anyone is their prey. Being benevolent only renders churches more able to plant the seed of the gospel.
    April, 25 2009

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