ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA)
A St. Petersburg church that was targeted by vandals is taking the high road and using the vandalism to spread a message of love.
Sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning, vandals spray painted the words "gay pastor" on the sign outside Allendale United Methodist Church.
When church officials discovered the vandalism Monday morning, they decided to leave it up and turn it into a message aimed at spreading love.
To the right of the vandalism, the church added the message "Love always wins!" On the left, they added six different colored hearts.
"LGBTQ people are more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other minority group," church officials said in a Facebook post. "We will leave the spray paint up, surrounded by signs of love, to make visible the often invisible harm that the LGBTQ community receives every day."
On the side of the sign that was not vandalized, the church posted a message urging others to pass an amendment that would restore voting rights for felons. The message reads, "Vandalism is a felony. That shouldn't take away your vote for life! Vote yes on Amendment 4."
On Facebook, church officials wrote, "We are also taking this opportunity to tell the vandalizer that should they be arrested, we will fight for the restoration of their rights through the passage of Amendment 4."
This is not the first time vandals have targeted Allendale United Methodist. Back in July, someone threw a cinder block at the sign and broke it.
After that incident, members of the community raised money for a new sign that is now on order. The church says it also has cameras to install.