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Pasadena church has beloved cross that survived 1906 San Francisco earthquake stolen (ABC7)

July 28, 2023

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) — The St. James United Methodist Church in Pasadena is looking to find out who stole a beloved cross that once survived a devastating fire.

The cross is originally from the chapel at Stanford University, which was destroyed in a fire following the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. An architect found the cross at the bottom of the rubble.

But the cross that stood the test of time was stolen from the church sometime overnight last Sunday, when burglars smashed through a few windows to get inside and grabbed the church’s centerpiece.

Rev. Connie Tamkin of St. James United Methodist Church said that people were in the church until around 9 p.m., and no one returned until around 8:30 a.m. the next morning. So the vandals must have nabbed the beloved cross sometime between then.

The cross was the centerpiece of the church. The architect who found the cross back in 1906 designed the church around it in 1941.

“And he said I’m designing churches, someday, I’m gonna design a church that this is gonna be the right cross for,” Tamkin said.

The cross has a distinct, mosaic distinct, that to the church was one-of-a-kind and invaluable.

“It does feel like a violation, so your first response is like, how dare you. But you know, there must be a reason why. They must think it’s precious. They must think they’re gonna get something for it. Even if they don’t get much, it’s more than what they have now,” Tamkin said.

Tamkin isn’t just practicing perspective, but patience, too. She says break-ins have become an almost daily occurrence over the past month, as recently as last night.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is leading the investigation into what happened and who’s responsible.

The church is left with what do to, to prevent this from happening again.

“Over the years we’ve had to put in rod iron fencing, but it’s only this high. We’re now looking into having it go all the way up to the top. We’re looking at putting security fencing in the interim to stop all of this from happening while we figure out a good solution,” she said.

To support the church and Arroyo Repertory Theatre, the campus’ largest resident organization, with a technological and security upgrade, click HERE.