The piece was a lost wax casting, created by the church’s founding pastor and noted artist, Reverend Robert Haertig, in memory of his wife, Ruth.
The heron, which is about two and a half feet tall, had been installed in the church’s memorial garden 17 years ago.
“It is one of our favorite pieces,” says Cynthia Riggin, the church’s current pastor. “We are troubled that someone would take it — that someone would find themselves in such a place in their life that they would feel compelled to steal it.”
She adds, “The police have told us that it could possibly be someone who has a drug habit and needs the money. If that’s the case, they will probably sell it to scrappers who would melt it down.”
Pastor Riggins notes that the individual, probably the same person responsible for stealing the sculpture, has made attempts to take it in the past.
Whoever it is tried to bend parts of the piece and snap [them] off, but until recently, he/she has been unsuccessful.
Over the years, the church has had other brass fixtures stolen, even door stops, as well as a part of another bronze sculpture, which is located inside the building. There have also been a series of break-ins, especially in the shed, where landscaping tools are kept.
“They took the gas cans,” says Pastor Riggins, “so we don’t keep them there anymore.”
She adds, “The problems have been on-going, unfortunately.”
The disappearance of the heron, though, has saddened the entire congregation, perhaps most of all, Reverend Haertig.
Pastor Riggins explains that the idea for the sculpture arose at the memorial service for the Reverend’s wife.
She says, “Everyone was gathered in the memorial garden for prayers when a heron flew by. It lingered a bit before flying off. One of the Reverend’s children said, ‘There she goes,’ referencing the bird to Ruth.”
Pastor Riggins and the members of Northshore United Church of Christ would greatly appreciate it if the community could keep an eye out for the bronze piece, as the possibility that it will be melted down is very real and imminent.
“We would appreciate its return, no matter what the condition, though we’d love to get it back the way it was,” comments Pastor Riggins. “Our memorial garden is not the same without it.”