Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Local News

October 24, 2012

Grayson church cashes in 1 million coins

Oct. 24, 2012 — Ever wondered how much 1 million pennies weighs?

The Rev. Jim Varney knows the answer without Googling it. More than three tons.

How he did he come by that particular bit of arcane knowledge? Therein lies a tale.

Varney — not to be confused with the late actor by the same name — is pastor of the Grayson Freewill Baptist Church. On Monday, he and several helpers cashed in the $10,000 worth of pennies — that’s 1 million of them — his church had collected.

According to Varney, the idea for the penny drive came from one of his sermons. The message of it, he said, was that things like pennies might seem worthless and insignificant when there’s only a few of them, but they can add up to a lot.

Members of Varney’s flock brought in their 1-cent pieces until the million-penny goal was reached. It took roughly two years, he said.

It took a bit longer than expected, but, the fact the goal was reached at all was remarkable in light of the setback the church suffered. About six months into the project, the church was burglarized and the approximately $500 in pennies it had collected at the time was stolen.

The perpetrators were caught when they tried to cash in the coins the day after the break-in, Varney said. They were subsequently convicted, and, as part of their sentences, had to make restitution to the church, albeit not in pennies, he said.

Congregants weren’t deterred in their quest to collect a million pennies and decided to start from scratch, Varney said. And, the silver lining to the break-in was that getting caught and punished seemed to set the perpetrators on the right path, he said. They’ve expressed regret for the crime and apologized to the church, he said.

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