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Posted: March 30, 2016

Church close to returning 1800s family Bible to descendants

Donna Whitten bought this Bible in a Tennessee antiques shop. Years later, she enlisted her church to help find descendants of the original owners. SPECIAL
Donna Whitten bought this Bible in a Tennessee antiques shop. Years later, she enlisted her church to help find descendants of the original owners. SPECIAL

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            Church close to returning 1800s family Bible to descendants
Pages in the long-lost Bible. SPECIAL

By Shelia Poole

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. —

A Bible from the late 1800s may soon be reunited with the descendants of its original owners.

Members of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia recently began a social media campaign to locate descendants of the Church family, whose family Bible was acquired from a Tennessee antiques shop a few years back.

They used Facebook, Twitter and other social media to find descendants of the Church family to return the item.

The search didn’t take long. The church, which has nine locations in metro Atlanta, had a lead within 24 hours.

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“We have found a descendant who has proven documentation of her lineage in the Church family,” said Donna Whitten, communications director for the church, who bought the brown leather Bible for $175. “We have been in contact with her and are making plans to return the Bible to her.”

Relatives were found in California and Ohio.

They provided family documents and photos. The family was confirmed through the efforts of two 12Stone members who researched the family.

During the search, Whitten said the church also discovered a nonprofit organization whose specialty is reuniting heirlooms with their families, although the nonprofit didn’t play a role in the process.

The unidentified woman has sent photos of her family.

The Bible, which was in very good shape, dated back to 1869.

It sat on a shelf in Whitten’s Buford living room for years. Then, right before Easter, she decided to find the descendants of the original owners and got church members to help.

“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 Bible contained records of births, marriages and deaths, newspaper articles and a charcoal drawing of Job. Some of the obituaries are from Pennsylvania and New York.

Several people named “Church” responded to the Facebook postings, wondering if they were connected to the Bible by blood or marriage.

“A lot of people started talking about family Bibles and their own stories and how not many families have them anymore,” Whitten said.

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