Church to keep racist graffiti in place - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Church to keep racist graffiti in place

BLACKSTONE, VA (WWBT) -

Vandalism stuns the members of a historic church. It was discovered Sunday morning just before services at the Spring Hill Baptist Church in Blackstone. In a unique twist, members of the congregation say the graffiti won't be washed away.

Every single parishioner saw it; the "N" word, spray painted on the marquee of the Spring Hill Baptist Church.

Travis Warren is the pastor.

"I was angry at first, I have to be honest with you," Warren said.

It was late Saturday night. Somebody drove up to the marquee with a can of spray paint, then quickly drove away.

"Oh I thought it was probably a sick person," said Thelma Evans, a church member.

But a funny thing happened. Anger turned into sadness, and then it turned into rejoicing.

"Some would say, ‘Why would you rejoice?' We're rejoicing because we're hoping what was listed on that will spark a conversation," Warren said.

Rather than wash away the word immediately, Pastor Warren decided he'll keep it right there.

"We want the young kids to say, ‘Mom, Dad what does that actually mean? Why is that on the church marquee?' And we're hoping that the parents encourage them to let them know that this is not the way that our world should be," Warren said.

It still bothers the members, of course…

"It does. But as the sign says now, God still loves you. Whoever that person is, God loves that person," said Evans, referencing a message spelled out below the graffiti.

…but they stand united for the greater goal.

"I think it should be up there. It should be up there. Because it's showing strength," said Waymond Mitchell, a church member.

Members of the congregation have put together $500 for information leading to the person who committed the crime. But they don't want to see anyone go to jail. What they want to do, instead, is continue the conversation that they've already started.

Pastor Warren says he'll keep the graffiti up for the next two weeks.

Vandalism is punishable by up to a year in jail plus a $2,500 fine.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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