Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter December 14, 2008

Wild Rose United Church, a GLBT affirming church in Calgary, Canada was vandalized. Our prayers and thoughts are with those at Wild Rose United Church.

Linda Hunter, a Minister at Wild Rose United Church, reflects on the vandalism in a May, 2008 "News and Information" item.

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The sound of shattering glass must have been fairly loud, but none of our neighbours heard it. The sound of splattering paint would have been quieter, so it is not surprising that none of our neighbours heard that. And the sound of retreating, paint-covered shoes was the most silent of all.

Vandals had spent a productive Sunday morning in the month of May, splattering paint and shattering glass. What were they trying to tell us here at Wild Rose United Church? Perhaps the hateful telephone and e-mail messages earlier in the week provided the most telling information. We were going to hell, no question, and the Bible backs that up.

Why would such a fire and brimstone fate await us? We are, after all, a Christian church, but we are also an Affirming Congregation within The United Church of Canada. That means that we are a community of Christians who welcome gay, lesbian, transgendered, bi-sexual and two spirited folk into our community, loving them as companions on the journey of faith, recognizing them as part of Godís beautiful rainbow world of creation. Thatís what got us into hot water, or fire and brimstone, as our anonymous caller told us.

Such a hurtful act has hurt us. Not because any one of us has been physically injured, but because we have been targeted for loving as Jesus taught us to love. One of the things that this incident has taught us is what it feels like to be targeted. We have been targeted for our strong conviction that all of us our children of God. Not a radical belief really, for it is the belief that gave heart to the ministry of Jesus. It is, in fact, the core value by which Jesus lived and for which he died.

The other thing we have learned from this incident is that many of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters surround themselves with silence, never fully revealing who they are because they are afraid of being targeted, just as our church was. Can you imagine what it must be like to live like thatócloseted, secretive, evasive, on guard at all times? Oppression comes in many forms and this is a clear example of oppression.

The final thing we have learned from this incident is that to shrink into a corner is to become a victim, a victim of violence and intolerance. But we will not let ourselves become victims. We will not let violence and hatred be the final word in Godís world. We will continue our journey of faith, standing beside our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, welcoming them into the circle of our community, loving them and honouring them.

The sign is going back up, the glass will be replaced and we will continue our vigil of prayer for those who engaged in such acts of violence. Whoever they are, wherever they are, they, too, are children of God, worthy of our prayer and forgiveness. We offer them both.

Blessings, Linda

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Posted here with permission.

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