An LGBT-friendly North Carolina church painted rainbow colors over its front doors after vandals targeted the property with anti-gay slurs.
Wedgewood Church in Charlotte has welcomed LGBT members for years, but vandals targeted the congregation last week for its inclusive position, reported WCNC-TV.
The vandals spray-painted black bars across a sign reading "LGBT equality" and scrawled "f*gs are pedos" across the church's front doors.
“Heart-piercing was the thing that came to my mind,” Pastor Chris Ayers told GOQ Notes. “I really didn’t think about the church. I thought about the LGBT friends that I have. As a pastor, you hear all of these horrible stories for all these years. Everything is put in the context of these personal rejections that I know people have faced and this is just one more.”
The pastor described an encounter with a woman who showed up Thursday to take a photo of the sign to show to her son -- who she said had recently come out as gay but had experienced rejection from friends and relatives.
"She and her husband were supportive but many people had not been, and her son had been suicidal, suicidal to the point of putting a weapon to his body," the pastor said. "She wanted a photo of the church sign to show him there were churches and people who considered a person's sexual orientation and gender identity as gifts from God, not a sin."
He said the woman was comforted by the church's efforts to fight back against the vandals.
This is the second time the church has been targeted by anti-LGBT vandals, who seven years ago rearranged the marquee sign to read, "a lesbo church."
Ayers said the "LGBT equality" sign had been up for about a month before it was damaged -- just days after the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade.
“Pride was off-the-charts wonderful and it got such great coverage,” Ayers said. “I could very well see somebody wanting to strike out against that.”
The pastor said church members tried scrubbing the slurs off the doors, but the paint would not come off -- so they covered the hateful message with colors symbolizing gay pride.
"No amount of spray paint will stop us," said Kimberlee Walker, a church deacon.
Church members have discussed changing the sign to offer a message to the vandals: "We forgive you."
Watch this video report posted online by WCNC-TV: