A few years ago, Donna Whitten, the communications director of 12Stone Church was browsing in an antiques shop in Chattanooga when she struck gold.
Her precious find was an “awesome” family Bible dating back to 1869. It apparently once belonged to a family named Church.
The brown leather Bible, which is in very good shape, sat on a a shelf in her Buford living room for years.
That is, until this Easter period.
“For Easter, we were talking about the prodigal son and how far God went to get us back when we were lost,” she said. “We put a spin on it and asked how far would you go to give something back to someone who had lost it? I feel like I own a part of someone’s family history. It’s a family heirloom and I feel like they should have it. It should be in their family.”
The church posted a video of Whitten the 12Stone Facebook pages and members have followed suit, posting information about the Bible on their personal Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts.
“We are using our church family to find the Church family,” she said.
Whitten, who loves old religious and poetry books, paid $175 for the Bible.
She was amazed at the family detail in the Bible, which has a brass or gold clasp. There are recordings of births, deaths and marriages. Some of the obituaries are from Pennsylvania and New York. Newspaper articles and a charcoal drawing of Job.
There’s a Horatio Leander Church, who was born Sept. 1, 1847. He married Lelia Washburn Waite in Nov. 11, 1907.
His is last death recorded in the Bible. It was Sept. 1, 1929.
There’s also a Thomas Alonzo Church,who was born on Sept. 26, 1849 and died on March 7, 1866.
The detail “made it much more personal,” she said.
So far, there have been one or two nibbles.
12Stone Church, which has an average of 17,000 worshippers on any given weekend, has nine locations in Lawrenceville, Flowery Branch, Grayson and Snellville.
“This much history in one book is pretty exciting,” she said.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.