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Thieves squash Liberty church's communion tradition, steal 1,500 pounds of grapes

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Posted at 7:13 PM, Sep 07, 2021

LIBERTY, Mo. — More than 1,000 pounds of grapes were recently stolen from a Liberty church, squashing the congregation's hopes of continuing one of its traditions.

Pastor Michael Kern with Hosanna! Lutheran Church said the congregation had plans to pick the harvest after a Sunday service, but 1,500 pounds of the fruit weren't in the vineyard.

“Every year we have a tradition where we harvest the grapes from the vineyard,” Kern said. “We love bringing the kids out here, and they cut all the clumps of grapes and then we turn the grapes into communion wine and that’s the wine we use for communion each and every year.”

Five rows of vines outside their property have been there for more than 15 years, and Kern said they were told this year's crop would be the best they've seen.

“In the bible, it talks about Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and we are called to bear fruit so, it’s kind of cool to see God working that growth out right in front of us,” he said.

But their fruitful season was ripped away.

“We knew that the grapes were there last Monday when someone came to check on them,” he said. “Unfortunately, we got here, and the grapes were gone. They had been picked already; not just eaten off by animals, but actually had been cut off the vine and were gone.”

Liberty police are looking into the rare crop theft, of which the grapes are valued at $1,500.

“It definitely had to be someone who knew what they were doing,” he said. “We don’t care so much about the grapes, the value of the grapes. It’s just something we love doing. It was more someone kind of stole our joy a little bit.”

But the church is choosing to move forward with even more joy, and they aren’t looking for any donations.

Their wine producer in Excelsior Springs still will provide wine for communion.