The Vicar of Hellingly and Upper Dicker has condemned the break-ins which occured at two local churches between Christmas Day and December 28.
The Rev David Farey said “the violation of one’s personal space is traumatic”.
Valuable religious silverware was stolen from the Zoar Baptist Chapel in Lower Dicker, including two Communion sets.
Holy Trinity Church in Upper Dicker was broken into and untidily searched, though nothing was taken. The Plough pub in the village was also a target, with raiders taking two bottles of Champagne and £250 in cash.
Mr Farey said, “Not only were items of value stolen but mindless and unnecessary damage was caused.
“The violation of one’s personal space is traumatic. There is a feeling of being soiled and made unclean. When it has happened before there is a sense in which it is made worse and heightens the sense of fear that it is likely to happen again.
“It affects a congregation when it happens in their church. The church building for them has often been a place of sanctuary and safety where they can come to retreat from the turmoil of the world outside. When that space is invaded it can be profoundly unsettling. It was a conscious act that on the Sunday afterwards that the Holy Communion celebrated was dedicated to a re-sanctifying the space after the crime.”
He added, “For us the break-in generates a number of strong emotions, anger, sadness, desire for revenge and so on. When you live as decent a life as you can as a law-abiding citizen it is hard to understand the criminal mind which sees others’ possessions as yours for the taking, or someone else’s nice things as something to destroy and spoil.
“The human response is of anger, but the Christian is called to love his enemies. It is easy when the enemy is quiet, but a challenge when we are affected by his actions.”