(Dec. 19, 2019) – Thieves last week stole a trailer filled with everything that Bridges Church, a Covenant congregation in Tavares, Fla., owned. The church had recently sold its building and relaunched this month as a church plant.
The 15-foot trailer was stolen from the parking lot of the Golden Triangle YMCA, where the church now meets, between the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 11, and Thursday morning, Dec. 12, said pastor Eric Filkin. The doors to the trailer as well as the tongue that attaches to the back of a vehicle had all been padlocked, Filkin said.
In addition to the $3,000 trailer, the contents were valued at $35,000, Filkin said. Items included curtaining, screens and trusses, sound equipment, microphones, marketing materials, a printer, and other items. “Everything that you need to for a worship service and to run the business of a church,” he said.
(Above: Members of Bridges Church take down their equipment following the Dec. 8 service. All of it was stolen several days later)
Filkin said the church was grateful that the theft had been discovered before Sunday’s service because it gave the congregation time to adjust.
“Fortunately, the musicians didn’t have any of their own equipment in the truck,” Filkin said.
Two members of the worship team play in a band, so they brought their own equipment on Sunday.
The church is approaching the situation with a positive attitude. They began Sunday’s service with member Laney Clark giving a dramatic reading of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. And like the residents of Whoville in Dr. Seuss’s beloved story, Filkin said he and the church are determined not to let the theft diminish their Christmas. “We prayed that we would have the capacity to forgive, and that somehow the people who did this would find something in there that would turn their hearts toward God,” he said.
Congregation members have always known that the church is not the building, but through the relaunch process and the theft of the truck, “We are developing an even deeper understanding that the church is the community. That’s why we like to say that we are building new Bridges to Christ, our community, and each other,” Filkin said.
Tavares Police Department investigators told Filkin they have no suspects but believe the thieves thought they were taking YMCA maintenance equipment because the trailer had no markings identifying it as belonging to the church. “We hadn’t gotten that far along in our marketing efforts!” Filkin said.