Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned

Church problems blamed on local loitering teens

Teenage girls exposing themselves to passing cars. Drug using and dealing day and night. That’s some of the bad behavior members of a Cumberland County church say has been going on lately outside the house of worship.

"It’s very troubling to me,” said Pastor Rob Weigel of Cedarville Baptist Church in the Cedarville section of Lawrence Township. “Our main sign’s been vandalized several times. The letters re-arranged into lewd sayings.”

"It’s pretty bad in this area, really,” said Louise Bateman, who lives across the street from the church.

Weigel and parishioners say the bad behavior which occurs day and night, has been escalating in recent months.

“This church has been part of this community for over 172 years and the values and the principles that we stand for, certainly that goes against that,” said Weigel. The problems started getting even worse after a New Jersey State Police community affairs trooper was reassigned late last month, according to Weigel.

“He became very familiar with the children of the community and was a presence here,” Weigel said.

State Police said the trooper’s replacement has been off the street following surgery, but will be in Cedarville beginning next week. In addition, Cedarville will get two new bike patrol troopers starting Monday, according to State Police. State Police said the agency will also have a very strong presence in the community on mischief night and Halloween.

“I think that’s great. I think that’s the right steps,” said Weigel.

But some say solving the problem should start at home. Richard Long, 44, is a lifelong Cedarville resident.

“I would like to see the parents stand up and be parents. Control their children,” said Long.

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