Church of Scotland ‘crown jewels’ stolen

Albert Bogle. Picture: Dan Phillips
Albert Bogle. Picture: Dan Phillips
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A CENTURY-old ring which is one of the most important emblems of the Church of Scotland has been lost by the Moderator of the General Assembly.

The amethyst and gold ring was in a brown saddle-style bag, along with a gold cross pendant on a silver chain, outside the terminal at Edinburgh Airport when it went missing.

Picture: Police Scotland

Picture: Police Scotland

The ring, which has an amethyst stone carved with an image of a burning bush, has been passed down the generations since 1910.

However, the Moderator, the Right Reverend Albert Bogle, admitted it had gone missing at least once before. And surprisingly, he quoted song lyrics to express his sense of loss.

“I am deeply disappointed that this bag containing these valuable objects have gone missing. Like the lyrics of the U2 song I feel I’ve been ‘stuck in a moment and I can’t get out of it’, reliving this incident, trying to think what I should have done differently,” said Rt Rev Bogle, who plays guitar in his own band.

“The jewellery and cross are of significant historical importance and belong to the Church of Scotland. We would be grateful for any help the public can give to help trace their whereabouts.

“We are praying that these articles will be returned in the very near future. These items belong to the Church and the people of Scotland, they are not my own possessions.”

The ring originally belonged to the Right Reverend Dr Mitford Mitchell, the then Moderator of the General Assembly, who passed it on to his successor so it could become an emblem of the office. The cross was commissioned in 1999 and has also been passed from one Moderator to the next.

The ring was first stolen during a break-in at a former moderator’s house on Christmas Eve 2010, but was recovered several months later. It was also mislaid in 2006, but returned to the Church.

Rt Rev Bogle said the image of the burning bush had become a key symbol for the church.

He said: “The Church of Scotland has adopted this symbol because it refers to the biblical story where Moses was invited to come into the presence of God, not in a church but in the desert. Even in the wilderness, God is to be found, in the place you least expect him … In other words, the Church has a core purpose to bring the presence of God into the whole of life.”

The amethyst also has the Latin words “nec tamen consumebatur”, which translates as “yet it was not consumed”, a biblical reference to the flames not destroying the bush.

The saddle bag was decorated with Peruvian-style embroidery.

The bag and its contents were last seen outside the airport terminal at the pre-booked taxi area, on a luggage trolley at about 8:30am on Friday.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Inquiries are ongoing but we are appealing for anyone who may have any information to get in touch. These items are of great historical significance to the Church of Scotland. Further to that, they’re so unique and distinctive we would ask jewellers to stay vigilant should anyone try to sell them on.”