Thief returns Bible 40 years after swiping it

WHEN church treasurer Simon Scott received an unexpected parcel in the post he thought all his prayers for pennies from heaven had been answered.

The long-term member of Holy Trinity Church in Robertson Street was hoping the heavy, unmarked box sent from Germany could be divine intervention.

But the weight of the box must have mirrored that of the heavily-burdened soul that had sent it.

To Mr Scott’s surprise it contained a Bible which had been stolen from the church 40 years earlier.

“I hoped it was something to help fill our coffers,” said Mr Scott. “But it turned out to be a 200-year-old Bible which was of little monetary value but came with a major story behind it.”

Simon was waiting for a box to arrive after receiving an anonymous typed letter from Germany.

The letter explained how the saga began back in 1971 when an unknown student was spending time at one of Hastings’ many language schools of the day.

It reads: “It may be astonishing to you to receive a letter from one whom you do not know. More than ever to receive a parcel which contains an old bible. In 1971 I was just married and went with my wife to Hastings to upgrade our English knowledge for a better start in our occupations. The English lesson we had were in some rather old and dark rooms not made for lecturing. The lecturer himself seem to be very old and he had no teaching skills. He confused us totally. So we were very disappointed as we paid a lot of money for the four week course. In this excited moment I made a big mistake. I saw some gorgeous Holy Bibles in a corner underneath a bench. It seemed they were no worth for the community or the church and I took one with me home. It was a compensation for the poor course. In my mind I wanted to read and study chapter by chapter to complete my English. But in reality I did not. Back home I felt my action was not correct. Even more my wife was very angry and tried to persuade me to return the book. This Bible always brought me a guilty conscience.I was too cowardly to hand it over personally. Now I am retired and I make a final impulse to clear my conscience. I deeply regret what I did and can only hope this Bible finds its rightful home again.”

Mr Scott, who has been a church member since 1980, hopes the culprit can now sleep easier at night.

He added: “I think he is a God-fearing chap and this was his attempt at a confession. It must have weighed very heavily on his mind.I’m sure he will be able to rest a little easier in his bed now.”