CLARKSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — The community is coming 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 multi-colored stripes.READ MORE: 4 People Shot Near East Baltimore Intersection Within 14 Hours
But late last week, Pastor Gayle Annis-Forder noticed it was gone.
Someone had sawed through the sign’s supporting posts and taken off with the sign.
“Last Thursday morning I looked up to see it, because it always makes me smile, it wasn’t there,” the pastor said. “…I was pretty upset, as you can imagine.”
Annis-Forder told WJZ the same sign was vandalized last June when someone scrawled their own message over it.
“Somebody had written god is not mocked and repent,” she said “We had cleaned it off the best we could and left it there. I think the person hoped we would take it down 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 runs much deeper than that.READ MORE: Inner Harbor Hotels Prepare For Fourth Of July Festivities
“We also include international folks and persons with disabilities and all different kinds of folks in this congregation,” she said. “It was just a sign everyone is welcome here regardless.”
The pastor said she didn’t realize how many people in the neighborhood have been positively impacted by the sign.
“I think everybody needs to feel like there’s a place where they’re welcome and what several people have said is, ‘I don’t attend there, I’ve not been there before, but that makes me feel good,'” she said.
While investigators are looking into footage obtained from a surveillance camera at a nearby gas station, Annis-Forder said she is in awe of 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 that in a civil way, in a cordial way. Let’s not damage, deface, destroy, steal–let’s talk together. I think that’s what God wants us to do.”
The pastor said the church will be installing security cameras and a new sign will be ordered. A celebration will be held outside the church once the sign is replaced.
Red Bird Bar and Grille in Glenelg will also be hosting a fundraiser this month to help cover the cost of a new sign.MORE NEWS: Fourth Of July Festivities Begin In Baltimore County Sunday Evening
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Howard County police at 410-313-STOP.