The people at Parkminister United in Waterloo were preparing to host a potluck dinner last weekend in support of the local LGBTQ community. As they arrived at the church on Wednesday morning, they were shocked to find that someone had spray painted graffiti on the sidewalk in front of their main doors:
THE CHURCH SHALL REMAIN HOLY
I am sure they must have been saddened to see, first the vandalism, and secondly the use of the scriptures to spread a message of exclusion and judgment. I think my first instinct would have been to get a power washer and take it off as fast as possible. But my friends and colleagues, Joe Gaspar and Heather Power, are a ministry team with a strong reputation for justice and creativity. They decided to take back their space and make it sacred and safe for everyone who came in their doors.
They reclaimed the words of scripture, sending a message that by emulating Jesus and by welcoming everyone into their space they were keeping the church holy at its most elemental level.
Secondly, they accepted the offer of a local artist to work with the people of the church to change the sidewalk into a mural that incorporates many symbols of marginalized communities within their local neighbourhood. The mural was painted this week - a mural of joy and love and hospitality toward their neighbours.
By changing the hurtful message of the graffiti into a joy-filled work of public art, the people of Parkminister have given the whole community a reason to come together and to celebrate in peace and love.
I am so proud of our brothers and sisters at Parkminister for turning hate to love and opening the door for respectful conversation with their community.