Crystal Lake Methodist Church Burlarized

Pastor Steve Bullmer uses charcoal sketch of a grandfather teaching is grandson how to fish as a sermon illustration.

An email to members of the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake from its senior Pastor, Steve Bullmer:

Cheri Keagy singing at the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake

As some of you have heard, we had a break-in at First UMC somewhere between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

The unknown person broke through a window in Wesley Hall, cut themselves in the process, and proceeded to bleed all over Wesley Hall, up the stairs and through the hallway where the offices are.

They broke a door trying unsuccessfully to get into the main office, then went to the cabinet in the hall where we store CDs and used one of them to jimmy the main door to the office.

There they stole a laptop computer.

They then went down the hall to Jan Vera’s office and stole her laptop computer. They also found a little cash and took that, too. Heather’s office door was tampered with, but they did not get in.

No other rooms were entered. No vandalism occurred.

Associate Pastor Darneather Murph-Heath brings her message up close and perosnal.

Our custodian, Homero Lopez, was the first to discover the break-in. Soon after Jan Vera and Janet Yaworski saw the damage.

They called the police.

By the time I arrived the church was already a crime scene and the detectives were collecting evidence, so I didn’t see the mess in the offices or Wesley Hall.

The Preschool and PMO were unaffected by the break-in, so they met as usual on Wednesday, along with ESL classes and 40 Days of Purpose Life Groups. Children and Youth activities were canceled.

Director of Contemporay Music Jay Hemphill.

When all was said and done, the property losses were minimal, we lost a day of productivity, and many of us feel violated. It could have been worse. A lot worse.

People have asked me, “Did we lose any sensitive or confidential information on the stolen laptops?”

The answer is no, and I want to tell you why. Remember the money we spent earlier this year on upgrading our computer system? Because Agility is our IT provider, and they provide us 24/7 service, we were able to change the passwords immediately.

But here’s the best part. Agility has basically “lojacked” our computers.

In other words, they monitor all our computers and can remotely manipulate them. So as soon as anyone turns on one of the laptops, we will know where they are!

Pastor Steve Bullmer after an Easter service.

And in that vein, the perpetrator left lots of blood and fingerprint evidence. If they are a repeat offender, they will easily be found.

But mostly I want you to know that the decision the Financial Resource Committee made in choosing Agility as our IT provider is paying dividends we did not even imagine.

The Trustees will be calling a special meeting soon to discuss what actions, if any, we need to take to improve security in our building. With the number of people to whom we open our building to serve both members and the Crystal Lake community, that is a complex issue. We will let you know what is decided.

In the meantime, when I was finally able to get into the church, I took a tour of the building, checked in with the Pre-school and PMO, and then headed to our 40 Days of Purpose Prayer Chapel to pray.

By the way, I am really grateful for that space! As I prayed about what to do, I found myself praying The Lord’s Prayer.

When I got to, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” God said,

“Stop! Do you really mean what you just prayed?”

Was I actually asking God to forgive our trespasser? And I had to say,

“Yes, Lord. I really mean it.”

Pastor Steven Bullmer in the pulpit.

Now “forgiveness” does not mean “free pass.”

“Forgive and forget” is not in the Bible.

Forgiveness does not mean a miscarriage of justice.

But it does mean I have to relate to our trespasser as a child of God who needs healing and hope more than he or she needed those laptops.

Forgiveness means retribution and revenge are inappropriate responses from a Christian.

Forgiveness means I throw mercy at our trespasser, and I don’t “throw the book” at him.

Forgiveness means I try to find a way to say to him or her,

“Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

This break-in is a test of our Christian character. Not cheap grace, but grace nevertheless.

God has sent us a lost person. Are we going to offer them Jesus, or a jail cell?

FUMC Choir under Director of Traditional Music Katrina Jackson

What am I asking of you?

  • First of all, thank the Financial Resources Committee for their wisdom and good stewardship of not going with the lowest IT bidder but choosing the one that offered us outstanding service.
  • Second, thank God that no one was hurt, and our losses are minimal. Third, pray for the Trustees as they have to make some hard decisions about the future of security for our building.
  • And finally, open your heart to God so that when we are called to interact with our trespasser, we do so in a way that this broken person finds the healing power of Jesus through us, our community is proud (and maybe amazed) at how we respond, and God says, “Well done, good and faithful servants.”

Pastor Steve



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