A burglary was reported at Ascension Lutheran Church on Sunday. The pastor, Jeff Crim, issued the following statement:
"On Oct. 7, while our congregation was gathered for our weekly worship service someone entered the church building without being noticed and stole a bicycle belonging to a member of our community. Other items may have been stolen as well, but nothing else was noticed immediately and an inventory has not been conducted. The East Ridge police were notified and a report was filed. While the bicycle was nearly brand new and relatively valuable, it is a material loss and can be replaced.
"That this theft took place between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. while the church was occupied for worship is a testament to how desperate some people have become. Most people would assume that such a brazen theft would be unlikely to succeed and perhaps even dangerous. That this could occur during our worship service is also a testament to how loving and accepting and trusting members of our congregation are.
"In the 25th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus commands his followers to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and clothes to the naked. He commands his followers to welcome strangers; care for the sick; and visit prisoners. He tells his followers that however they treat others is, in fact, how they treat Christ himself. These words of Jesus are guiding principles for us at Ascension Lutheran Church.
"I have served as pastor of this congregation since September of 2011. During that time we have received countless visits or phone calls from local people in need of all sorts of assistance. In the past year, absolutely nobody seeking assistance from our church has been turned away. Our own limited resources have meant that we could not completely meet every need presented to us, but nobody seeking assistance has ever been turned away without some attempt made to meet their needs. During the extreme heat of this past summer distributing water to people walking the two miles from Ringgold Road to the bus stop on Brainerd Road became a daily activity. Every person who has approached our church for any reason has been treated with dignity, respect, kindness and love. While our community feels hurt and violated by this incident, it will not change the way we relate to people in the surrounding community.
"The bicycle stolen was a black and silver Giant Sedona DX purchased last month from East Ridge Bicycles. The serial number is on file in my office and has been provided to the East Ridge Police. If the bicycle and any other items removed from the church, are returned by contacting me at the church office no criminal charges will be pressed by either the church or the owner of the bicycle. We’ve no desire to prosecute or punish anyone. However, if stolen items are recovered by law enforcement, charges and prosecution will be at their discretion and not ours."