Police Car Lights

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Liberty church will not be able to continue a cherished tradition of picking grapes and making communion wine after thieves stole about 1,500 pounds of grapes.

Pastor Michael Kern with Hosanna! Lutheran Church said five rows of vines have grown outside the church for about 15 years. Every year the congregation picks the grapes after a Sunday service and makes communion wine for the rest of the year, KSHB-TV reported.

The grapes were stolen sometime after Monday. Kern said they were not eaten by animals, but cut off the vines by someone who knew what they were doing.

Liberty police were investigating the theft of the grapes, which were valued at $1,500.

“We don’t care so much about the grapes, the value of the grapes," Kern said. "It’s just something we love doing. It was more someone kind of stole our joy a little bit.”

The church is not looking for donations to replace the vines and its wine producer in Excelsior Springs will provide the communion wine.