PAULS VALLEY, Okla. - A local church is seeking the return of its Baby Jesus, stolen out of the Nativity scene just days after it was set up.
The First United Methodist Church erects the Nativity scene in the first week of December every year. This year, less than a week later, someone discovered its adored centerpiece was missing.
"I had someone call me, `Don, Jesus is missing. Do you know what happened?`" said Pastor Don Griffin. "`I have no idea.`"
Evidently, the Baby Jesus wasn't enough.
"A couple days after that we noticed the manger was gone, too," Griffin said, "the actual feeding trough that Jesus lays in.
Both vanished without a trace.
"My first thought was this is kids, or teenagers, this is just some kind of juvenile prank," Griffin said. "I don’t really think this was a malicious type of thing lashing out at religion or at faith or at us. And it was my hopes that I would come up here one morning and it would be back."
The same thing happened years ago, the Baby Jesus stolen out of its manger. The pastor said that time, it was returned on Christmas.
"You know, I can’t fathom what someone’s going to get out of it. I can understand why somebody would want to steal a church safe on a Sunday night because there might be money in it," Griffin said, "but i doubt very seriously you're going to go down to the local pawn shop and pawn Jesus and the nativity manger."
Prank or not, the pastor said it's a daily disappointment for his congregation and for many others who look forward to the nativity scene each year.
For the time being, he said the church won't file a police report because they don't want to punish anyone. They're just hoping for its safe return, no questions ask.
"Every time I drive by, I look to see. I keep hoping it`ll show back up," Griffin said. "Needless to say it hasn't yet, but there`s always the promise of tomorrow."