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The Rock

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The date was June 28, 2005. Senior Minister, Rev. Terry entered the Sanctuary going about his preparations for the day when he discovered a large rock sitting just feet from the altar. Around the rock lay pieces of broken glass and shards of metal from the shattered Tower of Light which the rock had apparently been thrown. The following is an excerpt of an article from the Pasadena Star News describing the event.

Troubled times for Tower of Light

By Marshall Allen, Staff Writer

Rev. Terry Keenan of the Santa Anita Church in Arcadia stands in the middle of broken stained glass that a vandal destroyed during the night with a large stone June 28. 2005. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

ARCADIA — A soaring stained glass window known as the Tower of Light was partially shattered by a rock in a possible burglary attempt at Santa Anita Church early Tuesday morning, church officials said.

The Rev. Terry Keenan, senior pastor, said the window is insured at more than $1 million and will cost thousands of dollars to repair. Keenan said he had no idea why someone would hurl the volleyball-sized stone through the window.

“My basic feeling is that it’s just somebody who doesn’t like themselves very much and has some anger,” Keenan said. “If you respect yourself very much you don’t do things like this.”

The Tower of Light is a half cylinder, 30-feet high and 25-feet wide, that rings the back of the altar in front of the church. The hand-made glass was imported from France, Germany and Italy. Its design is an abstract blend of bronze, clear, gold and yellow panes, which together cast a warm glow into the sanctuary.

The tower of stained glass has won architectural awards and survived earthquakes since it was installed when the church was built in 1959. It was the vision of the church’s founder, Dr. Ethel Barnhart. The church, at 226 W. Colorado Blvd., bases its teachings on the Bible, metaphysics and religious science, the pastor said.

Before becoming a minister, Keenan spent 30 years in law enforcement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He said his law enforcement training leads him to believe the crime was an act of opportunistic violence, not a hate crime against the church.

As work began on repairing the stained glass Tower of Light, Rev. Terry considered what to do with the rock which had been heaved through the Tower. Recalling that a Barnhart School parent owned an engraving business, he inquired about having the rock engraved with a single word on the face of the stone. That word was FORGIVE.

The Sunday service prior to the week the rock was to return from the engraver Gina Milligan sang the song One Tin Soldier. The lyrics of this 1960s era anti-war song tell the story of a hidden treasure and two neighboring peoples, the Mountain People and the Valley People. The Valley People are aware of a treasure on the mountain, buried under a stone; they send a message to the Mountain People demanding it. When told they can share the treasure, the Valley People instead decided to take it all by force. After killing all the Mountain People, the victors move the stone and find only a simple message: “Peace on Earth”.

Upon hearing the song, Rev. Terry called the engrave back and requested the addition of the words PEACE ON EARTH to the bottom of the rock. Given the hate or anger that brought the rock to the floor of the altar, Rev. Terry thought these three words were befitting. The beautifully engraved rock now sits at the front of the church upon a pedestal as a reminder that in order to have peace, one must forgive.