CLARKSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — The community comes together after a church sign in Howard County was vandalized last week.
The sign stood outside the Linden-Linthicum Methodist Church in Clarksville and displayed the message “Everyone is welcome here” on multicolored stripes.
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But late last week, Pastor Gayle Annis-Forder noticed he was missing.
Someone had sawn off the panel’s support posts and peeled off with the panel.
“Last Thursday morning I looked up to see him, because he always makes me smile, he wasn’t there,” the pastor said. “…I was quite upset, as you can imagine.”
Annis-Forder told WJZ the same sign was vandalized last June when someone scrawled their own message on it.
“Someone had written that God is not mocked and repent,” she said. “We had cleaned it up as best we could and left it there. I think the person was hoping we would delete it and we didn’t, so they did I think.
Although the colors on the sign are LGBTQ-friendly, Annis-Forder said the message of inclusion goes much deeper than that.
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“We also include international people and people with disabilities and all kinds of people in this congregation,” she said. “It was just a sign that everyone is welcome here, whatever.”
The pastor said she didn’t realize how many people in the neighborhood had been positively impacted by the sign.
“I think everyone needs to feel like there’s a place where they’re welcome and what a lot of people said was, ‘I’m not going there, I’ve never been there. before, but it makes me feel good,'” she said. noted.
As investigators review footage obtained from a surveillance camera at a nearby gas station, Annis-Forder said she was impressed with the community’s support. She has a message for the culprit.
“You don’t have to agree with us, but we’d love to talk to you,” she said. “But let’s do this in a civil way, in a cordial way. Let’s not damage, degrade, destroy, steal, let’s talk together. I think that’s what God wants us to do.
The pastor said the church will install security cameras and a new sign will be commissioned. A celebration will take place outside the church once the sign has been replaced.
The Red Bird Bar and Grille in Glenelg will also be holding a fundraiser this month to help defray the cost of a new sign.
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Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Howard County Police at 410-313-STOP.