Church organ at Luther Place Memorial plays despite paint vandalism

5:41 PM, Aug 4, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The church organ played during Sunday service at Luther Place Memorial Church on Vermont Ave, NW for the first time since someone splashed white paint, feces and urine all over it last Sunday.

A homeless woman has been charged with defacing the Washington National Cathedral and she's suspected of vandalizing several other iconic landmarks.

Cindy Olson said "it was an incredible violation of the sanctuary and it was unnecessary."

Cindy Olson and organ player Jose Zambrana discovered the horrible act. Despite the stained pipes that remain, Zambrana played music for the congregation.

"To hear it today, is the triumph of the spirit in the face of adversity we are thankful," Zambrana said.

Fifty-eight-year-old Jiamei Tian is suspected of defacing several iconic landmarks. She's charged with damaging two chapels at the National Cathedral and police say her shoe print matches evidence at the Lincoln Memorial.

The Smithsonian statue was also splattered with green paint.

But still the church prays for the suspect who may be suffering from mental illness.

Pastor Karen Brau said "acts like this is a sign of something deeper going on in the person."

There's still green paint splotches on the Martin Luther statue outside and white paint inside. 

The church has a strong outreach with the homeless. There is a women's shelter in the church and they work with a soup kitchen down the street, but they don't remember Tian using any of their services.

The congregation only remembers her attending last Sunday's service.

They never suspected the woman who sat in the back pew. 

"She thanked me and put her hands together and bowed her head and I thought she wanted to be with God," said Olson.

The church organ played Sunday but there will be a time when it will have to undergo extensive and pricey repairs. The cost of cleaning, taking the pipes apart and restoring them, will cost close to 60 thousand dollars.

A judge ordered Tian released to a halfway house with an electronic monitor.

She was traveling on an expired visa.

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