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CHASKA, Minn – Burglars broke into Chaska's oldest church and took 100 years of history in one overnight swipe.

"I wish they would come on Sunday morning rather than the middle of the night," said Reverend Mike Eder, the pastor of Chaska Moravian Church in downtown Chaska.

Sometime in the late evening hours of Monday, July 14, Reverend Eder discovered thieves broke into the church office and took a locked safe containing $50, but even more valuable to the church were four handwritten ledgers containing birth, wedding and death records dating back to 1920. The leather bound books contained important genealogy information of members from the early years all the way to a baptism performed two weeks ago.

"It was personally challenging for me out of the 30 pastors that have served this church in 155 years, I would really hate if I was going to be the one who broke that chain of protecting those records," said Rev. Eder.

The Chaska Moravian Church has been the cornerstone of the community longer than Minnesota has been a state. It was the first church in Chaska since 1858, and the first Moravian church in Minnesota. The Moravian church is considered the oldest Protestant denomination.

After two weeks and still no signs of the records, Reverend Eder made an unique move to get the thieves attention. He posted the safe combination publicly on the church's website and Facebook page. The Facebook post reads:

"Chaska Moravian Church is still missing our safe, with church papers dating back to the 1800's in it. If you know anything about this, we are giving out the combination in hopes that someone may return these papers that are so precious to our congregation. Spin to the left four times and stop at 30, turn right three times and stop at 79, turn left two times and stop at 18, turn right slowly until dial stops, open."

After all, Reverend Eder is behind a church with a long history of forgiveness and is confident the thieves will come forward with the records and a conscience.

"I just wish they would come to know the joy and the real treasures we have to offer here," said Reverend Eder.

Chaska Police are investigating. Call Chaska Police at (952) 448-4200 with any information.

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