A Bartow County church congregation was reminded Sunday of the power of redemption and forgiveness.
It was nearly a year ago when a man broke into the Grace Baptist Church on Old Cassville White Road in Cartersville and stole thousands of dollars from the church safe.
During Sunday services, the congregation welcomed him back.
Kevin Harris admitted he was nervous about what he would say to the congregation as he approached the altar. Wiping away tears, he began to speak.
"May the 28th of 2012, last year, I broke into this church and I stole money from you and God," he told members of Grace Baptist Church in a brave and honest manner. FOX 5 News reported the burglary last June. Harris broke into the church office, broke open the safe and stole credit cards as well as thousands of dollars in cash. Days after the report, he turned himself into police.
Sunday, he told the church that his addition to meth was the reason he stole from the church.
"I hurt a lot of people, a lot of people that were close to me. I hurt my family, my friends, and I hurt you, Grace Baptist," said Harris.
But it wasn't the usual hurt reaction given by the church. Church pastor, Dr. Ralph Jenkins, explained that they were immediately ready to forgive. Church members wrote letters to Harris in jail, some even visited. A few spoke to the judge in his case and convinced him that Harris needed help.
"And as the sermon's message was this morning, at no time are we more like Christ than when we forgive people," said Dr. Jenkins.
Harris spent three months in jail as well as had several more months of successful rehab and while he paid his debt to society, he had one thing left to do.
"I'm here for one purpose and one purpose only, and that's to say Grace Baptist Church, I'm sorry for hurting you and stealing from you. And will you forgive me?" Harris asked church members.
The answer was clear from the standing ovation to the group that gathered around Harris and prayed for him.
"I was overwhelmed by the reaction I did get. I knew they would be supportive, but I had no idea how supportive," Harris told FOX 5.
It is the much needed support he will need as he completes his rehab requirements.
1551 Briarcliff Rd., NE Atlanta, GA 30306
Main Number: (404) 875-5555 News Tips: (404) 898-0100