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Baby Jesus stolen from nativity scene in Chambersburg, Pa.

November 18, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Jamie Khanna of Chambersburg, Pa., and her son Fernando Salinas look over the nativity scene Friday in front of Central Presbyterian Church on Memorial Square in Chambersburg. The nativity scene's Baby Jesus figurine was stolen between Tuesday night and Thursday morning.
By Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — That's the challenge that Jamie Khanna of Chambersburg was faced with Friday.

"This is awful. Who would do something like this?" she said as she looked at the creche in front of Central Presbyterian Church on Memorial Square.

Khanna and her son Fernando Salinas walk in downtown Chambersburg often and were looking forward to seeing the nativity scene.

"I explained about the nativity and Baby Jesus and he (Fernando) said, 'Mom, something's not right. Where is the Baby at?'" she said.

The Norland Garden Club that stores the creche erected it Tuesday. By Wednesday, the Baby Jesus figurine was stolen.

A report was filed Thursday with the Chambersburg Police Department.

Between Tuesday night and Thursday morning, police said the Baby Jesus figurine was removed from the nativity scene.

Susan McCarl of St. Thomas, Pa., thinks stealing a crucial part of the creche is "awful."

But she has mixed emotions about the incident.

"It could have been a little child who wanted to have it," she said.

McCarl said the tight economy could force adults to do things they normally wouldn't do.

"If someone just stole it, I feel very sad because it (creche) means so much," she said. "It's part of what we are here. It's just very special."

As part of her upbringing, Baby Jesus didn't become part of the nativity scene until Christmas morning.

"I still hold out hope that the Baby Jesus will be returned," McCarl said.

The Rev. John Helgeson, interim pastor of Central Presbyterian Church, said he is disappointed by the theft, but not surprised.

"Unfortunately, I've served enough churches to know that this is a growing trend across the country," he said. "I've seen this happen at about five churches where I've served."

Whether the removal of the figurine is a prank or a religious statement, Helgeson said all will be forgiven — and charges dropped — if the Baby Jesus is returned.

"The manger without a Baby Jesus in it definitely leaves a void," he said

While the first reaction to the theft might be anger, Helgeson said that's not the message of the Christmas season.

"We actually prayed for those who stole it today, at the church," he said. "We believe that God can work in prayer and that maybe these people will be moved by the Holy Spirit and be touched to repent and bring it back."

Even if the figurine isn't returned, Helgeson said Baby Jesus once again will be back in the nativity scene before Christmas.

Anyone with information about the theft may call the Chambersburg Police Department at 717-264-4131.

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