This LGBTQ-Inclusive Florida Church Had the Best Response When Its Sign was Vandalized

This LGBTQ-Inclusive Florida Church Had the Best Response When Its Sign was Vandalized

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Either late Sunday night or early Monday morning, the Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida had its sign vandalized. The vandal spray-painted the words “gay pastor” on the sign, presumably in response to the church being LGBTQ-affirming. But the church responded to the church vandalism by doing exactly what you’d hope a Christian church would do — turning the other cheek.

Before the church vandalism, the sign read “1.4 million can’t vote due to a prior felony. Vote yes on Amendment 4.” Amendment 4, which was recently the subject of a Last Week Tonight With John Oliver report about felony disenfranchisement, would restore voting rights to Floridians previously convicted of a felony.

In Florida, even after a felon has served their time, they must travel to Florida’s capital to formally request the restoration of their voting rights. Unfortunately, the request is placed before a board, including Republican Governor Rick Scott, whose decisions are often arbitrary. Amendment 4 would change that.

Apparently, the vandal didn’t have any interest in the sign’s endorsement of Amendment 4, and spray-painted “gay pastor” over the message.

But instead of merely cleaning the sign and continuing on as if nothing had happened, Pastor Andy Oliver — who doesn’t identify as gay — decided to make the church vandalism a teaching moment.

He changed the Allendale United Methodist Church sign to surround the graffiti with six rainbow hearts, matching the colors of the Pride flag, and wrote “Love always wins.”

“We wanted to surround that message of hate and homophobia with a message of love,” Oliver said.

But Oliver wasn’t done. He also adjusted the reverse side of the sign with a message for the vandal. “Vandalism is a felony. That shouldn’t take away your vote for life. Vote yes on Amendment 4.” (Though we’re shook that vandalism is apparently a felony.)

This is not the first time the Allendale United Methodist Church has had its sign vandalized. In July, someone threw a cinderblock at the sign when the sign displayed a quote by civil rights leader, Rep. John Lewis.

After that incident, the church raised enough money to pay for a new sign (and security cameras). That sign is set to be installed next month.

What do you think about the response to the Allendale United Methodist Church vandalism?

Featured image of Pastor Andy Oliver by Josh Rojas/Spectrum Bay News 9.

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