Rainham church break-in: Thieves smash stained glass windows
Thieves who targeted a church caused between £5,000 and £10,000 of damage, before making off with a charity pot containing less than £200.
The Rev Nathan Ward said when he arrived at St Margaret's Church, in Rainham, Kent, he found the 900-year-old building had been ransacked. A stained glass window was also smashed.
Police said they were called to the church at 07:40 GMT.
But Mr Ward said the break-in "would not dampen spirits" ahead of Christmas.
He added: "This is a season where we especially think of those whose lives have taken a wrong turn and would welcome an opportunity to meet with those involved so we can help and support them.
"We bear no ill will."
The thieves forced doors and cupboards open, ransacked the church office, and stole the CCTV camera.
Much of Sunday, he said, would be spent clearing up and increasing security, before services resumed in the evening.
Mr Ward said the break-in was "particularly sad", given how old the stained glass windows were, and that the small amount of money kept in the church was meant for charity.
A second church in Rainham - St Thomas of Canterbury in London Road - was also broken into. Police were called to that church at 09:15.
Kent Police confirmed inquiries into both break-ins were ongoing, and appealed for anybody with information to come forward.