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Nativity figurines stolen from Berkeley County retreat center

December 05, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARLOWE, W.Va. - An angel was the only figure not stolen last weekend from a nativity scene on display at a Christian retreat center in Berkeley County.

"The manger is empty here," said Joe Quesenberry, a year-round resident at Potomac Park Camp off U.S. 11. near Marlowe, W.Va.

The illuminated figures of baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, wise men, shepherds, sheep, donkeys, camels and horses were taken from Potomac District Council Assemblies of God's camp ministry facility late Saturday or early Sunday, according to the center's manager Doug Sachs and Quesenberry.

Both men would rather not file a police report and hope the figures are returned.

"We haven't done that as of yet," Sachs said Tuesday night. The Rev. Stephen Fountain, the camp ministries director for the Gainesville, Va.-based district council of churches, wasn't available to comment Tuesday, but Sachs said his supervisor would ultimately decide whether to file a report detailing the loss with police.

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"They could bring (the nativity scene) back and just lay it there," Quesenberry said. "We could put it back together."

The angel apparently wasn't stolen because it was fastened to a post that elevated it from the back of the barn-like shelter for the display, Quesenberry said.

The wires and receptacles also were left behind, Quesenberry said.

At about 3 feet tall, Mary and Joseph are the largest figures in the set, Quesenberry said. The animals were posed lying down. Purchased as a set from Lowe's about 10 years ago, all were illuminated by light bulbs, Quesenberry said.

"We put it out each year in honor of the Lord," said Quesenberry, who has converted one of the Potomac Park Camp's summer cottages into a year-round home for him and Lois, his wife of 49 years.

"I hope that whoever took it ... it has some kind of meaning for them," Sachs said.

Acquired by the Potomac District Council Assemblies of God in the 1920s, Potomac Park Camp, at 11 Tabernacle Way, includes retirement, mission support and prayer centers, and lodging and meeting facilities, according to the district council's Web site.

The Potomac District Council is affiliated with the national church, The General Council of the Assemblies of God, based in Springfield, Mo.

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