A Fort Mill church still isn’t entirely sure whether almost $7,000 in cash, checks and items were stolen or misplaced.
What they do know is, it’s gone.
“We’re hoping someone finds it and turns it in,” said the Rev. Jimmy Ferebee, pastor at Word of Grace Community Church.
Word of Grace meets at the Adventure Center on the Anne Springs Close Greenway. On Oct. 26, the church reached out to Fort Mill police about and incident following an earlier service. That’s when a locked bag with more than $1,000 in cash and almost $6,500 in checks went missing. Along with a tie, bookbag, leather portfolio and two Bibles — including the pastor’s.
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Ferebee figures his Bible would be an odd item for someone to steal.
“If they slipped in while the people were there and they picked it all up together, and they were using it to hide the money bag, that would be the only reason to do that,” he said.
The money bag and a Bible were last seen on a music stand. Several people stayed on for a half hour or so to clean up the facility after the Oct. 8 service. The church uses two rooms in the adventure center, where they began meeting almost two years ago. The church has 80 to 100 people on typical Sundays now.
“We’re one of those churches where we set up and tear down every Sunday, and in doing so the money bag and pastor’s Bible, and other things were sitting there,” Ferebee said.
It wasn’t long after the last folks left that the pastor and bookkeeper realized they didn’t have the bag. A Greenway employee had to unlock the door so they could search the site for it. A trailer used by the church was searched multiple times.
After looking extensively for the bag and items, church leaders spoke with members and then contacted Greenway officials. According to the police report, church leaders were told there was “an unidentified suspicious” man seen that day by an employee. He was described as a Caucasion man with long hair, a long beard and a t-shirt. Police don’t list the man or anyone else as a suspect.
Church leaders don’t know if the items were stolen or misplaced, but they’ve spoken with everyone from members to cleaning staff to police.
“It hasn't shown up since,” Ferebee said.
The money in the bag was a typical offering, Ferebee said, rather than funds designated for a specific project or mission. The church does pay the Greenway to rent the space. Church members were contacted in time to cancel checks, Ferebee said, and cash donations shouldn’t be impacted for charitable giving purposes.
“People writing the checks are re-writing the checks,” he said.
The lost money was “not insignificant” to the church, but it won’t close its doors, either. Ferebee would like his Bible back. So far it doesn’t appear anyone tried to cash the lost checks. There hasn’t been any indication that anyone has the money or other items.
“We haven’t seen that,” Ferebee said.