Updates: After the damage on Wednesday, June 19, a GoFundMe was started to fund security cameras at the door display. According to the page, it was able to surpass the $1,000 goal, with 32 people raising $1,393 in the span of one day.
The church is also holding a community prayer vigil at 6:30 p.m., Friday, June 21 at the church lawn, 15509 116th Ave. SE in Renton.
Original article: The United Christian Church in Renton remains persistent in its message of love and pride, despite multiple attempts to damage its display.
The church put up six doors reading “God’s doors are open to all,” in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride month, a symbol that is part of a greater city-wide message of visibility this year.
Renton Police Department tweeted Wednesday morning that FBI Seattle Division is now in charge of the investigation of the most recent damage, which is considered possible arson and an explosion.
The morning of Monday, June 17, staff came to the church to find the last door that reads “All,” had not only a large rip in it, but some signs of an attempt to set it on fire.
Then on the morning of Wednesday, June 19, posts on social media showed more damage was done to two other doors at the display. The photos appeared to show “Leviticus” written on one door, damage and some sort of firecracker taped to the back of one of them, and a possible explosion on another.
The damage done to the doors reflects the damage that those in the LGBTQ+ community experience far too regularly, Pastor Cynthia Meyer said.
“Seeing that response to the sign helps people see that it happens and is wrong and people shouldn’t be treated that way,” Meyers said. “It’s sending a good message to encourage people to be more active in their support and care.”
Meyer saw it later in the day Monday, and said she was sad it happened but not totally surprised. Offended people sometimes do things that are inappropriate, and even criminal as in this case, she said.
Someone in the neighborhood who saw the damage on Monday, stated on social media they reported it to Renton Police Department as a hate crime. According to police, it was only being investigated as malicious mischief as the intent of the suspect was unknown. Now the investigation is in the hands of FBI Seattle, after the Wednesday attack appeared to involve arson or small explosions.
The same day the door was hit on Monday, a group of families connected to the Montessori school on the church grounds came together quickly to help.
At 4 p.m. Monday, about 40 people got the door replaced, painted and ready, thanks to Amy Helland, who organized folks on the Cascade Buy Nothing Facebook group. On top of that, they decorated the sidewalk in front of it with chalk messages and art.
“It was a great outpouring of care and support,” Meyer said.
Last week, there were two reports from social media that the doors had been knocked down. Meyer said they were put up quickly by people walking by, before any church staff even had a chance to fix them.
It’s encouraging and uplifting to see folks take time to help them keep the sign up and be persistent with their message, Meyer said.