Bethalto church leaders discover hidden cameras on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve came with some unpleasant surprises for the members of a Bethalto church.

Bethalto Police were called to Zion Lutheran Church at 11 p.m. Dec. 24 during the Christmas Eve services after clergy and staff members found unauthorized surveillance cameras hidden throughout the church building.

Over the next week, police and Zion Lutheran staff conducted multiple searches of the church building. No further cameras or other unusual items were found.

“Though it is not known if this was an isolated incident, all victims of the unlawful recording from Dec. 24 have been contacted,” according to a statement from the Bethalto Police Department.

Police said an adult male member of the congregation was arrested on Christmas Eve as part of the investigation, and has been released pending charges. He was not named by police.

The Rev. Mark Hofferber, pastor of the church, said church leaders have no additional information beyond the facts released by the police.

“As we continue to deal with this very serious event, we ask for the community’s ongoing prayers for our congregation,” he said. “This event will not deter us from continuing Jesus’ mission for us to make Zion a place where God’s love is at work in and through his people.”

Stephanee Smith, spokeswoman for the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office, said the case is still under investigation and could not provide additional details.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald