Stolen stained glass windows are returned to church in city

For 81 years of Sunday mornings at the Fourth Baptist Church, a warm glow bathed the sanctuary at North 13th Street and Sullivan Avenue in St.

Louis when the sun shone through the green and beige stained glass windows.

"It's simply beautiful. It dominates the service. It's the character of this place," said the Rev. Richard Taylor, 60, the pastor of the tiny congregation in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood, who's been struggling since 1985 to keep the place going.

Things were bad enough when the heating failed this winter. On Tuesday morning, Taylor got a call that thieves had taken some of the stained glass windows. Sixty of them. Sometime since Saturday night.

"A lot of people were in tears over it," he said Wednesday. "A lot of people have been in this church over the years."

But, improbably, the windows were returned Wednesday, leaned against one of the church's black brick walls by a man who said he had bought them for his salvage business.

"The man who returned the windows said he had heard they had been stolen from here and he said he didn't need this kind of trouble," Taylor said.

"I wouldn't say it's a miracle exactly," he added. "God always needs the human agency to accomplish his ministry. God wants us to be the one to accomplish what's asked for."

The salvage dealer, Frank D. Ford, 47, told Taylor and the police that he was approached Tuesday by four men who assured him the windows were not stolen and had come from a church that was being razed. Ford said he paid them $30 per window section - a total of $1,800.

Ford could not be reached for comment.

Taylor said he expects the windows to be reinstalled this summer by a group affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

If only Fourth Baptist can get help restoring the heating and fixing a leaky roof, Taylor said, members can resume their Sundays in the glow.

600450 Stolen stained glass windows are returned to church in city
Date: 26 March 2004

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