"Love always wins": Church responds to vandal with message of their own

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Photo via FOX 13's Natalia Verdina.

A vandal attacked a St. Pete church overnight, but the spray-painted message of hate isn't going anywhere.  They church says they’ll leave it up – to help make a point.

It was sometime overnight Sunday into Monday when the vandal struck the Allendale United Methodist Church along Haines Road North.  The words “gay pastor” were painted onto the sign, obscuring a message in support of Amendment 4, which gives Florida voters the option to restore felons’ voting rights.

But instead of scrubbing the sign, the church added the message “love always wins.”

The pastor says this is a perfect opportunity to show the community that this church welcomes anyone.

“We will leave the spray paint up, surrounded by signs of love, to make visible the often invisible harm that the LGBTQ community receives every day,” the church’s Facebook post explained.

"You know, we believe that love does win," offered Rev. Andy Oliver.

Allendale UMC describes itself as “a social justice, anti-racist, LGBTQ-affirming congregation of believers, doubters, and everyone in between.” The church is known to express loudly, and publicly its stance on many issues.

"Amendment 4 would restore voting rights to people that had committed felonies," said Faiel Pardel, youth director at Allendale United Methodist. 

The church has taken a strong stance supporting the restoration of felons’ voting rights, and they used the other side of the defaced sign to call attention to this fall’s ballot issue.  

“We are taking this opportunity to tell the vandalizer that, should they be arrested, we will fight for the restoration of their rights through the passage of Amendment 4.”

The church added that they are planning to install cameras; the sign had already been damaged when a vandal attacked it with a brick in July.

Police say they are investigating.