black lives matter

‘More Than Vandalism': Black Lives Matter Signs Outside Hillcrest Church, Bar Defaced

"We recognize in some ways that putting all of this out in front of the church makes us a target. And yet, we think it's important to proclaim loudly that this is what we really believe"

Church in San Diego vandalized
NBC 7

Black Lives Matter signs vandalized at both a Christian church and a bar in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego have prompted a response from the city's mayor and an investigation by police.

"This is more than vandalism. This is hate," Mayor Todd Gloria said pointedly on Twitter Monday, referencing photos of the paint-splattered banners.

A large sign supporting the global movement to end systemic racism was hung above the entrance to the University Christian Church on Cleveland Avenue. The one above Rich's stretches across the front of the entrance to the gay nightclub, and can't be missed by anyone traveling along University Avenue.

Both were splattered with pink paint over the weekend.

The church's senior pastor, Rev. Caleb Lines, said six doors, each painted in a different color of the rainbow with the phrase "God's Doors Are Always Open" and hung on pillars at their entrance, were also removed.

"This is a public statement that we try to make to the community and to the world that God's love is for everybody, that this church is for everybody, and we try to embody that in the way that we live our lives here at the church and the way we live in the community," Lines said.

Lines said the doors were torn down days before the banner was vandalized and it is unclear if the two were connected. Their security team notified them of the defaced BLM sign.

"The vandalism isn't as disheartening or heartbreaking as the fact that people actually believe that Black lives do not matter. People actually believe that LGBTQ people don't have a place in the church or in the world," Lines said.

But within hours, members of the community -- and those connected only through the grapevines of social media -- were reaching out to University Christian Church to show their support.

"I had people from all around the country who had seen our social media post who were reaching out in solidarity with us, so it was actually kind of a powerful sense of community that was built after this happened," Lines said.

The rainbow doors were located and reinstalled outside the church and new BLM banners were donated.

“Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

We have been so moved by the kindness...

Posted by University Christian Church on Tuesday, January 26, 2021

University Christian Church touts its differences from others, claiming itself as the first "open and affirming congregation" in Southern California. And Lines says they won't let acts of aggression dishearten them from sharing that message.

"We recognize in some ways that putting all of this out in front of the church makes us a target. And yet, we think it's important to proclaim loudly that this is what we really believe and this is who we authentically strive to be."

SDPD is investigating the acts but has not yet said if the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. It was not clear if there were any suspects.

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