MT. NEBO, WV (WOWK) — Dennis Cherry learned on Wednesday that the first guitar he ever owned was stolen from the church he belongs to in Mt. Nebo, West Virginia.

Cherry, who is 62 years old, says he has owned the guitar for 45 years, meaning he bought the instrument when he was only 17.

“You know, I worked hard for it,” Cherry says. “It wasn’t bought for me — I actually bought it. So working after school I was able to pay for it, and I had been playing it since I was seventeen years old.”

Cherry is a pastor at Daystar Baptist Church in the Mt. Nebo area, and his entire family worships there. He says the church was broken into, and his guitar plus two Behringer speakers were stolen.

Cherry believes someone broke in between the night of Sunday, Nov. 20, and Wednesday, Nov. 23. He says the theft was discovered on Wednesday evening when a church member came to get some chairs from the building.

“It was discovered on the 23rd, but we had met for worship on the 20th, so probably one of those nights that, the 20th, the 21st, or 22nd, they had probably broken into it,” Cherry says.

In hopes to find the guitar, Cherry put up a $500 reward with no questions asked. Several good friends came to Cherry’s side to add money to the reward. One friend offered $200, another put forward $300, and two more pals also added $300, bringing the final total to $1,300.

However, since the guitar has not yet been found, Cherry retracted the $1,300 reward and instead thanked all who tried to help him.

Cherry says his memories with the instrument mean more to him than any price the person who stole it would get for it.

Cherry recalls having his guitar in hand while touring with a gospel band in southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. He says he played in every church he pastored at in Kentucky as well as many other places.

Cherry holds onto the moments when he played the guitar with his grandchildren. One of his granddaughters, Kinley, passed away at two-and-a-half years old in March. In a video sent to 13 News, Cherry shares a special moment with Kinley in which she sings the children’s Christian hymn, “Jesus Loves Me.”

Cherry says music has always been a part of his family.

At the age of 10, he was already playing his uncle’s guitar. One of Cherry’s other granddaughters, Sophie, who is the younger sister of the late Kinley, also loves to sing and play the piano. In addition, his wife is a pianist and all his sons play instruments.

Cherry playing the guitar with his 1-year-old granddaughter Sophie.

Cherry hopes the guitar is found so he can keep his family’s heritage alive and pass it down to his children and grandchildren. He says that if family means anything to the person that took the guitar, then they should rightly return it.

“It’s just something in our family that we would like to keep in our family,” Cherry says. “And if family means anything to whoever took it, surely they would understand allowing one of our grandkids or one of my sons or daughters, you know, to have the guitar.”

Cherry says the West Virginia State Police Summersville Detachment responded to the scene of the break-in. Anyone with information on the incident can contact the Summersville Detachment at (304) 872-0800 or Nicholas County non-emergency dispatch at (304) 872-7814.