Sale of pages from rare Bible provide renovation costs for Shady Cove church.
The sale of torn and tattered pages out of a 409-year-old Bible have funded much-needed repairs at a Shady Cove church.
Pastor Jack Bacon sent up a prayer last year asking for help after wind, water and woodpeckers took their toll on the Assembly of God Church.
"I said, 'Lord, our roof's leakin', our basement's flooded and I could use some help,' " Bacon said.
Enter divine intervention — in the form of a rare 1599 Geneva Bible. Bacon said he believes God sent him the water-stained book, which was purchased for a buck at a yard sale, as a way to foot the bill for the church's repairs.
"What's the chances of finding a Bible like that?" Bacon asked.
After the Mail Tribune wrote about Bacon's efforts last November and December, the stories were picked up by The Associated Press and circulated on Christian radio shows.
Bacon was soon inundated with page requests from local residents and Bible-lovers from as far away as Oklahoma and Florida.
Many of the pages were bought to be given as holiday gifts, Bacon says.
"We sold the pages for $100," Bacon said. "We raised $21,000 with that Bible. We didn't have to borrow a dime to get this done.
"Everything's done," he said.
Bacon beamed as he displayed a note of thanks from famed Christian book author Max Lucado. A woman bought the whole Book of Nehemiah at $200 a page, he said.
Bacon was given the rare Bible as a Father's Day gift from his son, Daniel Bacon.
"I wonder why the people who had the Bible didn't know what they had," Bacon said. "We figure someone's grandma died and the family had a big yard sale."
In addition to paying for repairs to his church's leaking roof and flooded basement, the historical Bible also reversed damage inflicted by neighborhood woodpeckers. The acorn-eating birds began storing their goodies in the church after a pine tree was cut down which had been used for generations by members of the feathered flock.
"Look at the holes all over the place," said Bacon, showing off before-photos of the church's eaves.
Bacon maintained his sense of humor even as the woodpeckers wreaked havoc on their new-found pantry. The foraging birds disrupted services with their rat-a-tat drilling as they embedded their acorns in his church. The church's new siding will cause avian headaches if they persist.
"We have cement siding now," he said.
The Geneva Bible is the version experts say was brought to America by Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. The first English Bible to introduce numbered verses, it was the version read by William Shakespeare and used by Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War.
Bacon's Bible has endured much and suffered extensive damage during the past four centuries. But it still holds new surprises, Bacon said. As Bacon pulls pages loose from the binding, he often finds hair. Pilgrim hair, he believes. There are also burn marks, souvenirs of fireside readers, and mistakes from early printing presses, Bacon said.
Inside the distressed tome are messages in faded script that detail births, deaths, marriages and other important milestones.
One note from an early owner of the bible, Helen Crombie, states, "My daughter Jean Stephen was born June 26th one thousand seventeen hundred and twenty eight. Likewise my son William Stephen was borne July the eighth one thousand seven hundred and thirty years."
Some people have expressed concern about the ancient Bible being taken apart, even for a good cause. But Bacon says the Bible's poor condition, and the fact it is missing its spine and original cover, makes it a poor candidate for containment. It contains 423 individual leaves, begins with Genesis 44:17 and ends with Revelations 19:17. Inside, the Metrical Psalms, Song of Solomon and other pages are missing, says Bacon.
The Song of Solomon was likely purposefully removed, says Bacon. Bibles were used to teach children to read. And the Pilgrims would have thought the content too adult for young minds, he says.
There are still Bible pages for sale. And, conveniently, the church still has a few projects on its "honey-do" list, Bacon says.
"We need to paint the trim, install the sidewalks and remodel the bathroom," Bacon says. "But we'll get 'er done."