The nativity scene in front of a Bancroft, Ont., church is looking a little crowded these days, but that's just fine with the church's minister.

'Christmas is about redemption and forgiveness and the community and coming together, and we got that in spades.' - Rev. Lynn Watson

There are now two figures of Mary, each holding a baby Jesus while Joseph and the Wise Men look on in front of St. Paul's United Church on Hastings Street South.

The reason behind the unusual configuration is that the original Mary and child were stolen sometime overnight on Dec. 9-10.

While Bancroft OPP searched for the missing figures, an anonymous donor left a replacement Mary and Jesus in their place last Friday night or Saturday morning.

Then, in an apparent act of contrition, the original Mary and Jesus were returned to the church sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

OPP announced Wednesday they are no longer considering charges, but would still like to speak with those responsible for the disappearance, then reappearance of the figures.

Forgiving thieves

Rev. Lynn Watson said she received a call Wednesday night from a woman who said knew the kids who had stolen the originals, and offered to return them.

Watson said she knows everyone involved, but has forgiven the perpetrators.

"I saw it as a prank, just kids being kids. I wasn't taking it as a personal slam against the Christian church," she said. "The important part is that it isn't a hate crime.

"Christmas is about redemption and forgiveness and the community and coming together, and we got that in spades."

For now, the church is planning to keep both the originals and the replacements on display.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Watson wrote: "The world needs more Marys....to bear God to the world. This year there will be 2."

Missing Mary

Rev. Lynn Watson posted this picture of the missing Mary and Jesus on Facebook on Dec. 10, 2017. (Facebook)