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'It means a lot to us': Sturgis church in shock after statue reportedly stolen from garden

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Photo provided

Members of St. John’s Episcopal Church are in shock after a large statue they had in their garden had been stolen.

Church secretary Diane Warnement discovered the statue missing on August 1, 2019.

“Sick to my stomach that somebody would steal from a church," said Warnement. "It’s a sacred thing and was given to us from one of the trust funds."

She said as she walked into the church, she did a double take, shocked that the statue wasn’t there.

The statue of Saint Francis of Assisi is supposed to be sitting in the garden.

“It was wonderful right here, and as you can see he’s not there," said Warnement.

She said the statue was only two years old and heavy to carry.

“There was no way to secure it,” said Warnement. “The company told us that it would crack if we tried to drill holes and secure it into the brick. So we figured it was safe, being it was quite heavy. But apparently not.”

Reverend Jim Lively said the whole thing is frustrating.

“If somebody needs help, the church is always here to help them," said Lively. "So if they would come in and ask for help, we’re willing to help where we can."

Each year the church does an animal blessing by the statue.

“St. Francis is a patron saint of animals and the environment," said Lively. "So it was outside to enhance the beauty of our surroundings, and to provide people with a place that they could take in the beauty of the gardens and the environment."

People in the community are upset by the news as well.

“That’s just really shocking,” said Victoria Fisher, Sturgis resident. “Because why would someone steal St. Francis out of a church. From a church. You know, it’s a shame. Because they did a lot of work to get the place ready for him. And the gardening and they took out a tree. So they spent some time and money putting him there as inspiration.”

The church staff just has one plea for the people that took the statue.

“If you would just return it to the church, we would be happy to take it back without any judgement whatsoever," said Lively. "We forgive and forget, we would just like to have our statue back."

“It means a lot to the parish and to the people of the parish, it just means a lot to us,” said Warnement.

The church did file a police report. WSBT 22 spoke to a detective at the Sturgis Police Department, and so far, they don’t have any leads.

But everyone is hopeful that by sharing this story and photos of the statue, someone will come forward and return it.