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Wednesday, December 17, 2014         

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St. Philip's 'naked' after theft of cross

An altar fixture stood at the front of the church for at least 45 years but was last seen June 27

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

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Parishioners of St. Philip's Episcopal Church will hold services without their altar cross for a third straight week when they gather in their modest, plantation-green Maili sanctuary tomorrow.

The 30-inch-high, nickel-plated copper cross was stolen from the church altar several weeks ago after someone removed the jalousies from a building window and reached over to open the door, the Rev. Karen Perkins said.

Police said they are investigating the case but have no suspects.

"It just feels naked, the cross isn't there," said Eva Kum, who has been a member of St. Philip's longer than anyone else. "The cross fills up the church because it's something holy."

Kum, 79, said the cross had been a church fixture since she began attending services there in 1965.

During her five years at the helm of St. Philip's, Perkins said people have broken in and made off with the American flag, clocks and fire extinguishers, even the plastic numbers that tell people which hymns are to be sung on a given week.

"A lot of what was able to be stolen has been stolen," she said.

But the taking of the cross is most devastating for longtime parishioners like Kum, who has been at St. Philip's nearly every Sunday over the last 45 years, accompanied by her kids, grandkids and now great-grandkids.

"The other things that were taken, somebody could replace them," Kum said. "With this, we don't know where to begin."

Perkins called the situation sad.

"It's been there for how many people's baptisms, marriages and just years of worship," she said. "I just can't imagine anyone else having the same attachment for it as we do at St. Philip's."

The last time the cross was seen was during the June 27 service. But parishioners are guessing the church was broken into the night of July 3, Perkins said.

Since the cross was stolen, the church has used a small crystal cross that is being borrowed from Perkins' house. After the Lutheran Church of Honolulu learned of the misfortune at St. Philip's, they offered to loan a wooden altar cross and that will be in place during this Sunday's services, Perkins said.

A replacement would probably cost between $750 and $1,200, Perkins said.





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Theft leaves Maili church without altar cross




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