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Burglars hit Marshall-Shadeland church for 3rd time in 8 months

| Monday, June 24, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Pastor Frank Tillman Jr. of Christian Fellowship Center, Church of God in Christ Church, looks at a window that burglars used to enter the North Side church. The recent burglary was the third since November of 2012. 'We are a small church, but we are mighty in love,' said Pastor Tillman.

After three burglaries in eight months, Christian Fellowship Center Church of God is tiring of turning the other cheek.

Burglars last week broke into the Marshall-Shadeland church and stole two computers and sound equipment.

“What makes it as bad as a two-by-four on the side of your head is the fact that we're celebrating our 20th pastoral anniversary,” said Frank Tillman Jr., pastor of the church for all 20 years.

He said church officials on Sunday noticed the break-in, which must have occurred between June 16 and Sunday. He said someone broke one of six panes of an office window shielded by hedges on the side of the church.

“It had to be a small child because a square is only eight to nine inches square,” Tillman said. “Then they used a crowbar to crack the office door open. They had to have an adult to guide them.”

Pittsburgh police are investigating.

He said the first break-in happened in October, when burglars stole almost all of the church's copper water pipes. The next month, burglars stole the shut-off valve and the remaining two feet of copper pipe.

“There was no way of shutting off the water flowing into our basement,” he said. “The water was flowing in like a waterfall.”

The flooding forced the church to move for two months to a sister church in Bellevue. Christian Fellowship Center, which has fewer than 100 members, has occupied the building on McClure Avenue for 11 years.

Tillman said he cannot understand why someone would steal from a church that ministers to inmates at the Allegheny County Jail and feeds the homeless.

“We're not coming around just having people come to our church and then go home,” he said. “Our desire is to make a difference for those who are less fortunate than ourselves.”

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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