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Hawaii NewsWhatever Happened To

Loss of church’s cross becomes lesson in compassion

Question: Whatever happened to the cross that was stolen from St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Maili in late June or early July?

Answer: The 2 1/2 -foot-tall, nickel-plated brass cross has never been recovered.

But the modest, plantation-green church received a nearly identical replacement from St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Aiea that’s "maybe a smidge taller," said the Rev. Karen Perkins of St. Philip’s.

St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church also offered to buy St. Philip’s a new brass cross. And the Lutheran Church of Honolulu lent St. Philip’s a wooden cross for its first service after the theft was discovered in early July.

"We have not gotten our cross back," Perkins said. "We were hoping for that."

Thieves had broken into St. Philip’s before and made off with an American flag, clocks, fire extinguishers and even the plastic numbers that tell people which hymns are to be sung on a given week.

But the compassion of Perkins’ 30 or so congregants was tested when someone removed the jalousies from a building window, reached through to open a door and made off with the cross that stood on a table behind the altar, along with five floor fans used to cool off church members during services.

"We get broken into often enough that we weren’t surprised," Perkins said. "But we were surprised that someone would take the cross. ‘Really? They took the cross?’ … People were crying. They were dismayed and disappointed. We were so focused on the cross that we didn’t even realize that they had taken our fans, too."

So Perkins led her tiny congregation in prayer for the thief or thieves.

"We prayed for what is going on in their life that they would steal a cross and we prayed for its return," Perkins said.

And when the offers to replace the cross came in, Perkins led the church in prayer again, this time in prayers of thanks.

"It reminded us of our many friends and that people care about you in the larger community," she said. "It’s really touching, very touching."

Church members contributed floor fans from their homes and Perkins now removes the replacement cross and valuable audiovisual equipment after each service.

"It is a little ridiculous," Perkins said. "It’s not our first choice."

She estimated the cost of the stolen cross at $750 to $1,200 and has filed an insurance claim.

If the stolen cross is replaced through insurance, Perkins plans to keep the cross donated by St. Timothy’s in reserve in case another church needs one in the future.

"When someone needs it, we’ll share it with the one in need," Perkins said. "At the end of the day, I’m grateful for the community’s expression to us in this loss. It was full of love and very touching."

This update was written by Dan Nakaso. Suggest a "Whatever Happened To …" topic by writing to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or e-mail cityeditors@staradvertiser.com.


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