The thief and his wife had come to the town from Germany to take an English language course in 1971, and some of the lessons were held at the church. Disappointed with the lessons, the thief saw the bible and decided to take it with him and improve his English by reading it.
Simon Scott, treasurer at the church, received a letter from the thief along with the massive, leather-bound and brass-clasped volume.
The letter explained the theft, and the thief's subsequent guilty conscience. The thief also admitted that although he took the Bible to improve his English, he "never got round to doing it."
The thief also said his wife was "pretty angry" with him for stealing the Bible.
"Whenever I came across the bible I would have this guilty conscience about doing it," he wrote in the letter.
"I've never managed to pluck up the courage to come and hand it back personally," he wrote. "But now that I've retired, I've definitely decided to get on the right side of things."