Pastor Ron Hemphill has led services at New Life Bible Church in Prineville for 41 years.
He gives his impressive inventory of musical instruments a glance every time he walks past them. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, he noticed something wasn’t right about his collection.
A custom-made, double-neck guitar was missing.
“Every time I walk by this stuff, I always kinda just take a moment to look at it. And I stopped and I said ‘Where’s my guitar? My guitar’s gone,'” Hemphill said.
It was stolen after the Prineville Christmas Parade while people with the church were unloading their parade float.
“I said ‘Lord, I have a choice to make here and I’ve made a decision. I don’t know who stole my guitar, I don’t know why they stole my guitar, but I choose to forgive them,'” Hemphill said. “‘I want my guitar back, Lord.’ I did say that.”
The instrument was handcrafted. The wood was provided by a dear friend who took it to a craftsman to build it for Hemphill.
“The wood was given to a minister friend of mine. We traveled a lot together. Played a ton of music. A good, good friend. He was one of the first men I met when I moved to Prineville 41 years ago,” Hemphill said.
The guitar took nearly three years to build. Hemphill only had it for two weeks before it was stolen.
His friend never got to see the finished product.
“Sadly, Don died a year ago,” Hemphill said. “Never got the chance to see the guitar or anything. It’s a little emotional. It means a lot to me. The guitar is rather valuable, monetarily. But I think the emotional portion, the sentimental value far outweighs the rest of it,” Hemphill said, taking a pause. “I’d really like that guitar back.”
If you recognize the unique instrument, you can call Prineville Police or Pastor Hemphill at 541-480-5642.