The minibus was stolen from Well Church’s car park on Ansdell Road North sometime between 7:15pm on Saturday, July 30, and 9:30am on Sunday, July 31.
Members of the church had just raised £4,500 to buy it second-hand as a replacement for their old vehicle.
It was found dumped on Raikes Road in Thornton at around 8am yesterday, seriously damaged, with its engine and headlights missing.
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Assistant pastor Rick Hooke said the theft was ‘a sad blow’ for the church, but added: “We don’t harbour any resentment and forgive these people for what they have done.
"It’s not right what they have done, but we forgive them for it. They obviously need help. To take a minibus from a church that’s serving its community – to do that, you’re obviously not thinking straight.”
The church’s previous minibus was used during lockdown as a pop-up cafe providing meals to struggling families in Kirkham and St Annes, as well as making foodbank runs and taking young people and seniors on trips.
Rick said: “We literally bought the bus three weeks ago to replace our old minibus. We raised the funds from the congregation. People donated out of their own pockets.
“I couldn’t believe it when it was stolen. We’re very upset because obviously, the things we want to do, we’re not able to do until we get another bus. It’s a complete write-off.
“It's had the engine stripped out, the whole front end has been taken out.
"We’re now dealing with an insurance claim because it’s full loss. Whoever has taken it has obviously wanted the engine and the headlights, and has dumped the rest.
“The first time it’s been out of the car park since we bought it, was when it was stolen – and we have no idea who it was.
“Obviously people are upset and shocked. We're very sad that somebody has felt the need to do this.
"We've actually got two congregations, in Blackpool and in Ansdell, who put money towards it.”
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact Lancashire police on 101 quoting log 485 of July 31.