At this point, it’s hard for Reverend Malu Fairley-Collins to keep count of how many times her Charlotte church has been vandalized.
She is the co-pastor at Wedgewood Church in Charlotte, and sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, a vandal defaced their building.
“This is the first time they’ve gone to the back doors since I’ve been here in eight years, but we’ve been vandalized multiple times,” explained Fairley-Collins in an interview Wednesday night.
The co-pastor describes her church as having a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, multi-orientation, multiple gender identity congregation.
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They are accepting of all people. In the past couple of years, their building has been spray-painted with graffiti and their rainbow LGBT flag has been stolen, but Fairley-Collins doesn’t sweat the vandals.
“I’m not surprised. I take it as kind of a backhanded compliment in the sense of we are trying to do something that is so counter cultural that it makes certain people uncomfortable, makes them angry,” said Fairley-Collins.
The most recent act of vandalism resulted in graffiti being left on both sides of the building.
The vandal spray-painted the phrase ‘It’s okay to be white’ across the back wall of the building. They tagged another offensive message on the rainbow-colored front doors of the church.
“I was disappointed. I was hurt, but I was also like ‘Yep we’re gonna keep being who we are. We’re gonna keep creating this space and that’s probably gonna continue to make some people uncomfortable, but the spirit of God is leading us and we won’t be deterred’,” said Fairley-Collins.
She explained that she agrees with the phrase that is scrawled across the back wall of the church, but doesn’t condone the message the vandal is trying to send.
“So being white, yes of course its okay. Participating in white supremacy – no, it’s not okay,” said Fairley Collins.
Erik Rosengarten, a friend of the church, said he has helped to paint over graffiti at the church after previous incidents. His skills may be needed once more.
“We’re not just gonna stand back and watch it happen. We’re gonna make something out of it – something good – something beautiful,” said Rosengarten.
Fairley-Collins said that the church members will discuss potentially leaving the graffiti on the building and painting around it to turn it into a piece of art.
She said the vandal was caught on surveillance video, but has not been identified yet.
Anyone with information about the person responsible for the vandalism should call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.