The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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June 30, 2013

Stolen history: Documents, other items taken from 19th century church

— Just weeks after vandals broke a more than 160-year-old stained glass window at a Lincoln Township church, the 19th century sanctuary has been robbed of some of its history.

Pastor Dennis Doebler said whoever broke into Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church on Saturday night ran off with a safe containing church records that date back to its founding in the 1840s.

Police said a communion cup, a Kodak slide projector and a brass tray honoring two late church members also were stolen.

Loss of the handwritten records is what saddens Doebler most.

“They basically stole our history from us. To me, that is way more valuable than furniture or money,” he said Sunday.

State police in Somerset said whoever broke in entered through a basement window sometime after 9 p.m. Saturday. Once inside, the burglar or burglars took nearly two dozen items before fleeing in an unknown direction.

Doebler said the safe was empty aside from the record books.

He’s still determining whether other items might be gone as well.

Doebler discovered the brass tray was taken during Sunday morning’s Communion service. It was a difficult moment, but “we got through it,” he said, adding that a backup tray was used.

“It’s overwhelming to think someone would do this,” Doebler said, adding that he hopes those responsible will realize how they’ve hurt the church.

“But our spirit will not be broken by this,” he said. “We’ll carry on and continue to be God’s people.”

State police are asking that anyone who might have information on the incident call them at 445-4104.

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