WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Pastors at The Sanctuary of Wilmington say their church members were targeted by a racist act this week, and it’s not the first time. They’ve tried to just pray about it, but they say now they have to speak about it, too.
“I looked, and I saw something on the ground, and as I got closer I realized there were bananas on the ground,” Sanctuary Senior Pastor Daniel Cook said of a previous incident.
Above the bananas was a note.
“And the note said in part, ‘Here are some bananas for the monkeys,'” Cook said.
It’s not something you’d ever think to see at a church.
“It crushed me,” Cook said.
But Cook and his staff have seen a lot of it at both the current and future site for The Sanctuary of Wilmington on Carolina Beach Road in New Hanover County.
“One Sunday morning when we came in to unlock the doors, there were nooses in the trees, and me and my men, black men, white men, were out there cutting down nooses from trees,” Cook said.
Cook says his staff and the congregation tried to ignore it.
“We’ve tried not to give life to it up until this point,” he said.
Then, something happened Wednesday night.
“As we were sitting there talking about prayer requests and things like that a guy drives by, and he yells out some racial remarks towards our youth group,” Youth Pastor James Worriax said.
That was it for them all.
“It devastated our kids,” Cook said. “It really, really hurt our kids.”
“So it really opened their eyes to what we stand for and what we’re fighting against,” Worriax said.
It’s a fight, Cook says, he brought to Wilmington.
“I came here with a specific goal in mind, and it was to tear down the walls of racism and with that has come a lot of opposition,” Cook said.
And he and his staff say they won’t back down.
“We know that we’re at the right place,” Worship Pastor Myron El said.
Instead, they say they’ll stand up to the racist incidents even more.
“I think out of all this, God will get the glory, so we have to stay our course,” El said. “God has given us a vision, and our job is to just spread love.”
Cook says he has not taken this to law enforcement, but he has taken pictures of all the incidents as evidence. He did not want to share them on camera, however, because he says he thinks they’re too traumatizing.
New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Jerry Brewer said while prosecuting incidents like the ones Cook described might prove difficult, Cook can call and set up extra patrols around his church.