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Stony Brook church wants its historic lectern back, offers reward

This carved oak lectern from All Souls Episcopal

This carved oak lectern from All Souls Episcopal Church in Stony Brook went missing after the SOLES for All Souls race on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. Credit: Courtesy Daniel Kerr

The historic lectern from a 120-year-old Stony Brook church designed by architect Stanford White is missing — and the church’s leaders want it back.

Volunteers at All Souls Episcopal Church on Main Street said they brought the oak lectern out of the church and down to the street Sunday morning so they could address the larger-than-expected crowd of participants at the church’s annual run/walk benefit, called “SOLES for All Souls.”

Amid the commotion of the race, the awards ceremony and a raffle back at the hilltop church, the lectern was left behind.

When parishioners went to retrieve it, it was gone, said Daniel Kerr, the church volunteer who had decided to bring the lectern to the street.

“I feel terrible,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve lost a piece of history and it’s my fault.”

Kerr reported the missing lectern to Suffolk County police. He said he does not know if it was taken by someone who thought it had been left on the street to be thrown away or if it was stolen.

Police are investigating, a spokeswoman said.

Kerr said he is offering a $100 reward out of his own pocket for the lectern’s safe return — no questions asked. “I’m not accusing anyone of stealing,” he said.

The lectern was given to the church by an Episcopal bishop not long after its opening in 1896, said Steve Velazquez, the church’s senior warden.

“It’s an historic part of our church,” he said, used for readings of Gospel passages and priests’ homilies during church services as well as poetry recitations and other community events.

White, a partner in the famed architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, was renowned for his designs of the original Madison Square Garden, the triumphal arch in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, churches and mansions for the wealthy. He spent summers in St. James at Box Hill Estate, which he designed and had built.

Kerr said he and another volunteer brought the lectern down to the street because Kerr thought he needed it to get the attention of the crowd before the race.

“With so much going on, I didn’t think to tell someone to bring it right back to the church” after the race started, he said. “I never thought someone would walk off with it.”

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