The Rev. Robin Raudabaugh won't be deterred by the actions of a vandal spewing hate. Her Minnesota United Church of Christ congregation remains unwavering in its support and affirmation of LGBT persons despite the fact that Pilgrims United Church of Christ, in Maple Grove, Minn., was vandalized twice in a one-month span.
"At this time, we have no plans to change our security or our message of extravagant welcome and radical hospitality," she said. "We know our local police plan to keep an eye on our property."
The church was first egged about a month ago, and more recently the building was defaced, and the congregation got messages filled with hate speech.
"We have had a couple hand printed notes left in our mailbox defining our actions as a church as sinful and wrong," Raudabaugh said "Following the first egging we also received a hand printed letter citing scripture passages and naming us the church of Sodom and Gomorrah."
"Our response up till now has been to ignore the messages — including the first egging about a month ago."
Raudabaugh thinks the vandal is likely someone unhappy with the congregation’s support for marriage equality in the state. In early May the state legislature approved a law that will permit same sex marriage in Minnesota. In the fall, campaign signs, which urged voters to reject a marriage equality ban in the state's constitution, were stolen from the congregation’s lawn.
The congregation has one part-time custodian and no office staff, so Pilgrims UCC members brought out the buckets and washcloths before worship on Sunday, June 2, to clean the eggs from the entryway "so those extended family members coming for the baptism would have a welcoming entrance," Raudabaugh said.
As for the person responsible for the vandalism, Raudabaugh simply chooses to turn the other cheek.
"Our continued response is to continue to be an open and affirming welcoming to everyone presence. We do not have any interest punishing the person or persons desecrating our church," she added. "Our hope is that they stop. We don't want people to be afraid to come to church."