A church in Mason City, Iowa, was the target of vandalism just after the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus came to perform. The vandals used spray paint to cover the sign at First Congregational United Church of Christ that announced the Gay Men’s Chorus performance.
“Sometime last night (Wednesday) the church marquee at the corner of First and Delaware was vandalized. No other damage was done. It is my intention to leave the sign as it is for a week or two and add a sign that would say “We believe that God’s Love wins.” Church pastor Chuck wrote on Facebook.
The Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ sent the church a letter of support following the act of vandalism:
We surround you with our prayers this morning as you worship together for the first time since being touched by an act of vandalism that may have been in response to your expressions of extravagant, Christ-ly welcome. It has been a sad truth since the very first generation of bold Jesus followers that sharing the Word and works of christ can provke hstile and even hateful response. We stand with you in choosing welcome over exclusion and love over hate. We are proud of your courageous,loving choices and witness.
We are also praying for the one(s) who committed this act of vandalism, that they will be embraced by Christ’s extravagent welcome and turn from hostility toward curiosity an from hate toward love.
We are deeply grateful to you for your radiant ministries shining the light of Christ fro the corner of First and Federal throughout your community and far beyond it’s borders.
Thanking God for each of you, Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister, for the staff of the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ.
The Globe Gazette ran an editorial letting readers know that the act of vandalism doesn’t reflect Mason City or Northern Iowa:
The sign promoted what had been, by all counts, a wonderful concert by the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus several days before.
But we’ll probably never know whether it was a random act of vandalism or, more likely, a hate crime protesting the appearance by the gay men’s chorus.
Whatever the case, we want to make a point: This vandalism is despicable. This is not Mason City. Not today. Not for the vast majority of its residents. The Rev. Chuck Kelsey, pastor at First Congregational, agrees.
“I thought we were past that,” Kelsey said….
We trust the gay men’s chorus got the message of welcoming and appreciation of their music that so many people showed. And if they’ve heard of the vandalism, we trust they understand that it absolutely does not represent North Iowa.
Proud of their musical ability, the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus will continue to share their great talents. The vandal or vandals, meanwhile, will can continue living in the shadows of hate and cowardice.
Hopefully, they’ll be found out and prosecuted
The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus posted this message to supporters on Facebook regarding the vandalism:
Yesterday, someone spray painted over the sign in front of the First Congregational UCC in Mason City, Iowa that advertised our appearance at the church this past weekend. There were no words or vile messaging other than an attempt to cover our appearance announcement. The rest of the sign is fine and there was no other vandalism to the property.
Our Executive Director Jeff Heine talked to Pastor Chuck at First Congregational UCC to offer the support of the Chorus and our community.
We can all learn from how First Congregational UCC responded to this act of vandalism with the authenticity of their welcoming nature, with respect for all parties involved, and yes, even with some joy as this incident affirmed why they wanted us to visit and perform last Sunday.
The act was the result of one or more individuals that do not represent the feelings of Mason City.
At the heart of anger and hate is ignorance and fear. This incident does not tarnish our experiences last weekend in Mason City. It reminds us that we do not have to travel too far from home to build community with music.
The Mason City Police Department is seeking information related to the vandalism and can be reached at 641-421-3636.