'A hard pill to swallow'

Colin MacLean
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Parish of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church left reeling from break-in at manse

The manse belonging to the Parish of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Crapaud. The home was recently broken into, leaving the group of volunteers who renovated it in disbelief. COLIN MACLEAN/JOURNAL PIONEER

CRAPAUD - It didn't take Charlie Sherren long to figure out something was wrong.

He was standing in the front porch of his church's manse in Crapaud, just like he'd done a thousand times.

But this time was different.

Where there had been a new stove and fridge - there was nothing. Where there had been a new, spotless vinyl floor, there was a trail of gouges and scratches leading out of a now damaged door.

As the realization that the manse had been robbed dawned on him, Sherren felt a cold lump of disappointment settle in his gut.

"It was kind of - heartbreaking I guess would be the word. We're a small parish, we don't have a whole lot of members. We don't have a whole lot of money... It was a hard pill to swallow," said Sherren, reflecting on that morning of Nov. 15, when he discovered the theft.

For the past 15 years, the manse belonging to the Parish of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Crapaud has been rented out to a tenant. The proceeds are used to help with the upkeep of the church.

But about a year ago, when the long-term tenant left, the church was faced with a decision: sell the property or fix it up and rent it out again.

It was decided to rent out the manse until such time as a new rector could be found. They would eventually be given use of the home.

Margaret Collins, interim priest in charge of the parish, explained that the decision to fix up the manse was part of a larger plan of upkeep work for the heritage property.

To pay for the work, parishioners established a committee called Parish Productions to hold concerts at their church. They held fundraisers. And they developed a long-term plan.

"It's been a big year of a lot of work for a small group," said Collins.

As part of the larger plan, there was a small group of dedicated volunteers who fixed up the interior of the manse, added Collins.

They were hit hard when news of the theft broke.

"We did a scandalous pile of work on this place," she said.

"It was pretty devastating for everyone who had worked on the house. I think they felt a real betrayal. Because people had really poured a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this."

Since the break-in was reported, the parish has repaired the damaged floor and will replace the appliances once a new tenant is found.

All in all, the insurance claim was less than $2,000. But the parish is not as concerned about the financial loss as they are about the loss of peace of mind.

They're now talking about investing in security for the property, something that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, said Sherren.

In the meantime, they've taken extra precautions to avoid a second break-in.

It's not a nice feeling to have to do that, especially in such a tight-knit community as Crapaud, he added. But people have worked hard on the manse, and they deserve to have their work respected, and protected, he said.

"The dollar value on it is relatively low to what it could have been if there had been a lot of stuff in the house. But that doesn't change the feeling of invasion that you get from somebody coming in here and taking something from you," said Sherren.

"It's a terrible, terrible feeling."

Anyone with information regarding the break-in is asked to contact the RCMP as the theft is still under investigation.



Organizations: Evangelist Anglican Church, RCMP

Geographic location: Crapaud

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