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LGBTI-inclusive church gets political – and compassionate – after sign is vandalized

LGBTI-inclusive church gets political – and compassionate – after sign is vandalized

A church in Florida, priding itself on being inclusive, was vandalized recently. Congregants found the words ‘gay pastor’ spray painted onto their church’s sign Monday (24 September) morning.

The spray paint covered up a political message on the board.

In November, people in Florida will vote on Amendment 4, a state ballot measuring which would give voting rights back to people with felony convictions. The church is advocating for a yes vote, which they wrote on their sign.

The following photo shows their political advocacy on the sign, as well as the vandalism.

Vandalism on the church sign
The vandalism on the church’s sign | Photo: Facebook/Allendale UMC – St. Petersburg

Rev. Andy Oliver, the pastor at the church, does not identify as gay, but said their place of worship is welcoming. He added about a quarter of the congregants are part of the LGBTI community.

‘Of course we were disappointed that someone chose to vandalize our sign, but we saw it as an opportunity to respond with love,’ he said. ‘This is just a tiny piece of the hate that gets directed at the LGBTQ community everyday — harm that is often invisible.’

So how did they ‘respond with love’?

They kept the words, but also put up rainbow hearts and their own message: ‘Love always wins!’

Church sign updated after vandalism
Vandalism + love | Photo: Facebook/Allendale UMC – St. Petersburg

It doesn’t end there

Since then, the church has updated the sign once again. They removed the spray paint and put up a new message on the board.

In keeping with their theme of advocating for Amendment 4, and giving people with felony convictions their right to vote again, the church is supporting the person if they’re arrested.

New message on the chuch sign
The new message | Photo: Facebook/ Allendale UMC – St. Petersburg

On the sign, the new message reads: ‘Vandalism is a felony that shouldn’t take away your vote for life! Vote yes on Amendment 4.’

The city’s police are investigating the act of vandalism.

‘While we’re a welcoming community, that’s not what we welcome,’ said Mayor Rick Kriseman. ‘People who think that way, who are intolerant, who don’t have room for everyone, go somewhere else. ’Cause this isn’t the place you want to live, anyway.’

As for the church itself, they passed a resolution allowing their pastor to officiate same-sex weddings.

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