Decatur church chooses not to press charges if man replants stolen bushes

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Data pix.

DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) -  It's a lesson of practicing what you preach, literally.

Sunday, members of Point Mallard Parkway Baptist Church noticed three of their bushes were missing. Surveillance footage caught a man pulling up the previous day and digging up three shrubs and driving off with them.

The video ended up on Facebook, and quickly accrued dozens of thousands of views.

"Someone did notice that they knew where that truck lived," explained Senior Pastor JD Thorne.

So they contacted police, but not seeking punishment.

"We would offer forgiveness for him if he would put the bushes back," said Pastor Thorne. Forgiveness also meant no charges. Pastor Thorne says putting the plants back would show repentance.

"Maybe grace would be better for the person in this situation rather than justice," said the pastor. "Tuesday morning I saw the bushes were planted back and I came in with a smile on my face."

A half-empty bottle of rooting hormone and a few dirt tracks join the replanted shrubs. 

"Christians are people who have been forgiven. That enables us to forgive others,"said Pastor Thorne.

Even better, the man called the church to arrange a time to apologize in person. Pastor Thorne says his church exists to help people like him who need to know they can be forgiven.

"That's at the forefront of why we made that decision, and that's more important than any bush."