Thank you for your thoughtful coverage of the story of the graffiti at Crossroads last week.
I feel remiss in not letting you know before you went to press that the company our maintenance team chair, Bryan, had inquired with regarding removal of the graffiti has a really wonderful company policy not to charge for hate-based messages. So they spent parts of three days at Crossroads this week, removing the offensive message. Apparently it was the first anti-Christian message they have ever worked with.
Our commitment at Crossroads is to bridging differences across a variety of social, economic and even religious spectrums. Last spring we trained 50 of our members in “active witnessing” – an approach to intervening in situations where someone is being harassed or bullied.
We recently have hosted an Islamic scholar from the neighbourhood in order to understand Islam better and also to reflect more deeply on our own tradition through talking with folks of another faith. As you know, we are also an Affirming Ministry, meaning we are wide open to welcoming LGBTQ+ folks who have been marginalized in other religious settings.
Should the person who sprayed the message on our sanctuary wall last week ever be identified, I would be willing to engage in a kind of “restorative justice” conversation with that person, presenting the impact of their choice of behaviour and message on our community, and inviting them to make different choices.
Finally, lest Bryan’s words about the anticipated cost of removal of the graffiti (before we knew of Goodbye Graffiti’s policy regarding hate speech) concerned any of our community dinner attendees, I’d like to just clearly articulate that the dinners are sponsored by donors. Funding for the groceries for Crossroads’ community dinners is donated each month by a sponsor from within Crossroads’ membership or from within the wider community.
We would never divert those funds from that purpose in order to pay for graffiti removal. We are here to welcome and to serve, and we will continue to do that with the generous support of our committed donors.
Rev. Cari Copeman-Haynes
Lead Minister, Crossroads United Church