Community thwarts "Grinch" for Greenville UMC

February 08, 2008

The entire community rallied to help when the United Methodist Church in Greenville, California was victimized by thieves shortly before Christmas.


Greenville UMC has a message board – an approximately 10 by 12 foot sign – that it uses to publicize events, spelling out the information using individual letters that sit in slots. The sign is highly visible (as a sign should be), located on California highway 89 between the church’s thrift store and a popular Greenville coffee shop – and in the second week of December someone stole all the letters from it.


Rev. Tana McDonald reports that Ken Donnell, Chair of the church’s Board of Trustees, used spare letters and a bit of humor to create the message, “Please return our letters. Merry Grinch-mas, the United Methodist Church.” Within days, she says, the thieves returned the letters.


Sort of.


Community members spotted some, tossed in the street near the church. Owners of nearby businesses found others in their garbage cans. When word went out that the letters had been scattered around town, residents began actively looking for them in their own garbage cans, in snow banks, behind buildings – and when they found letters, returned them to the church.


McDonald says the two churches she serves, Greenville and Taylorsville UMC, have a strong connection with the community. As the oldest institutions of any kind in the Indian Valley – Taylorsville having been established in 1852 and Greenville in 1890 – they are considered “absolutely essential; a vital part of the social fabric” of the region.


All of the letters were recovered.