Pastor Offers Thief $1,000 to Return Stolen Goods

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LAKEWOOD, Ohio— Thousands of dollars worth of equipment was stolen from a local church, and now, the pastor is offering a generous form of forgiveness if it's returned.

Pastor Kevin Rush says Sunday, New Year's morning, a church member discovered that someone had broken into this trailer and stole about seven-thousand dollars worth of audio and musical equipment.

"We had our speakers, our subwoofers and our drum shield and a base cabinet," said the pastor.

The congregation uses the equipment inside Lakewood's Garfield Middle School, where City Edge Church holds its services.

Pastor Rush started the ministry in September, and used the trailer to store many of the church's belongings at a location he did not wish to disclose.

"I was immediately frustrated and ticked off, and really just kind of angry and bitter towards whoever did it. After I had time to think about it, and process through it, and pray about it, I really felt that we were just supposed to just offer forgiveness and grace and love," said Rush.

Pastor Rush says the church's motto is "love beyond reason," and says he prayed about how he could carry that out.

So, he wrote a letter to the trailer thief and posted it on the church's website, first explaining the incident and his feelings that progressed from anger to forgiveness.

"We're a young church and we don't have a lot of money; but it's significant enough to say we want to offer you grace, and somebody who would do this, to take not even all of it, just some of it, you know, they're just kind of desperate," he said.

Near the end of the letter, the pastor wrote: "If you return the equipment you stole I will not press charges. Instead I will write you a check for $1,000, no strings attached. I wish I could offer you more, but it is all I have."

"We don't hold anything against them. We really do want them to, even if they don't take us up on our offer, and don't take the money, that they feel that they're forgiven, and that we offer them grace," he said.

The church has since moved the trailer to another undisclosed location.

Pastor Rush asks anyone with information to contact him at: or 216-236-3970.

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