By Morgan Taylor, Reporter
OKEMAH, Oklahoma – Sometime during the night of Friday June 11, a 10-yard black dumpster-trailer was stolen from Greenleaf Missionary Baptist Church located just west of Okemah on Hwy 56 and 1 mile south on N3740 Rd.
The church is a pillar of Muscogee culture and operates traditionally.
The dumpster belonged to the MCN Environmental Services Department and was a part of the equipment the department would loan out to the churches and ceremonial grounds upon request, according to the Environmental Specialist I, Brett Sands.
John Fish, a lifelong member of Greenleaf and a commissioned community impact chaplain claims it was Saturday morning when he received the call from one of the elders who maintains the church grounds stating that the dumpster was gone.
After receiving the call, Fish claims he called MCN Lighthorse to make the report. The following Tuesday, Fish had made a Facebook post about the dumpster which had circulated around to Brett Sands.
Sands had reached out to Fish about the dumpster via Facebook Messenger. Sands provided Fish with photos of the dumpster which were added to the initial post from Fish.
According to Sands and Fish, once the photo of the dumpster had been added to the post, it had generated more reactions which led an Okemah citizen to reach out.
It was Brian Walls who reached out to Fish and Sands to give the latest information on the Dumpster.
Walls apparently spotted the dumpster at his neighbor’s house just east of Okemah around 12:50 a.m. Saturday morning. Walls had drawn suspicions about the sudden appearance but at the time, did not know at the time the equipment was stolen.
On Saturday evening, Walls was headed out to dinner and noticed the dumpster had been moved around the neighbors yard in a peculiar manner, so Walls proceeded to take photos of the dumpster.
On Sunday morning, Walls noticed the dumpster was gone.
After Fish’s post on Tuesday, Walls was able to correlate his information with Fish and it was determined by Sands that the dumpster Walls saw can be identified as the stolen item from the church.
“We didn’t find out until Tuesday so we were a couple days behind already,” Sands said. “Whenever I did get this detailed information from Brian Walls on Tuesday, I called Lighthorse and informed dispatch and gave him all the information for Brian and Lighthorse contacted him.”
Given the amount of time since the last known location, Sands claims it could be anywhere.
“It could be north, it could be south,” Sands explains. “If you’re on social media and you see the post please share it.”
“If you see our trailer please contact the police station, the sheriffs office, or Lighthorse immediately before calling our offices.”
Fish claims the church is subject to thefts frequently,
“Not only did they damage the trailer, but they messed with stuff inside the church houses as well looking for copper or other things to sell,” Sands said.
Fish said thieves come by the church stripping the camp houses of copper and robbing the church of items that range from the pews outside to the sound system inside.
“We just pray for these people that do this to us,” Fish said. “It does not deter us from keeping on.”
Fish has started spending nights out at the church grounds since this has been happening. He claims he scared someone off during a potential theft one night and had called Lighthorse to make a report.
“They responded quickly but whoever it was had gotten in their car and drove away before they got there,” Fish explained.
The church has applied for COVID related grants and received $25,000, which they plan to use for a security system, lighting, and other measures of protection, as well as try to repair damages, according to Fish.
“We are trying to preserve this place,” Fish explains. “It’s a part of our heritage and culture.”
For information regarding the dumpster-trailer please call Lighthorse 918-732-7800 or local law enforcement agency.
For information regarding robberies or thefts on ceremonial churches please call Lighthorse.