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Veradale UCC celebrates love in light of vandalism, theft

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Veradale UCC celebrates love in light of vandalism, theft

Contributions from FāVS from readers like you make this news story possible. Thank you.

News Story by Matthew Kincanon

Even though it’s only been a week since Veradale United Church of Church experienced vandalism and theft, the halls of the church were filled with joy and love Sunday, where members of the church and community held a “Love is Greater than Hate” flash mob potluck.

Smiles and friendly conversation echoed throughout Fellowship Hall as attendees sipped lemonade and chowed down on pulled pork, pizza, gluten free pasta, cake, donuts and other treats prepared by attendees. On the dessert table sat a cake with rainbow streaks circling the words “Love is Greater than Hate” written in blue frosting.

Veradale UCC
Veradale UCC flags prior to vandalism/file photo

The potluck was held in response to an incident that occurred June 25, when three people stole 25 Pride flags, tore down three Pride and Black Lives Matter banners from the church, and used a weed sprayer with diesel fuel to spell “LEV 2013” (Leviticus 20:13) on its lawn.

“I know there are other responses that are more with anxiety, and we certainly have that too, but it’s an opportunity to practice what we believe and our beliefs are that love is greater,” said Rev. Gen Heywood.

Heywood said they attempted to remove the writing from their lawn using water and dish soap.

Heywood believed the grass was going to survive. If the grass didn’t survive, her plan was to turn the writing into “LOVE 2023.”

Wayne Shull, music director of the church, said they wanted to give a positive response rather than one of revenge.

“Responding with hate does not accomplish anything, so we’re responding with love and a party and celebrating,” Shull said.

Even though it hasn’t been officially declared by law enforcement, members of the church and Heywood considered the incident a hate crime.

Heywood said she believed the perpetrators can still change as it is part of the gift of being human. She hoped that when they see there is a better way than hate, they will have people like those at the church who encourage them to “practice the way of compassion instead of the way of hate.”

Photo of Gen Heywood by Hana Reinhardt

Members of other churches and faiths in the Spokane area attended as well, including those from Westminster United Church of Christ and Temple Beth Shalom.

Victoria Harris from Temple Beth Shalom said that it was important faith communities came together when there had been actions of discrimination and hate, and it was important to gather and celebrate.

She said she was outraged when she heard of the incident and it made her want to “rise up and fight the good fight and conquer hate.”

Harris described the potluck as empowering.

“People of all different faiths who have been welcomed here this afternoon who are gathering together to celebrate, to show that love is stronger than hate, and that the people will overcome,” she said.

Though the three banners were stolen, Heywood said they would raise three new ones near the end of the event.

Heywood said she wanted attendees to know that their love matters, who they love matters, and that they are loved.

For those who couldn’t attend, Heywood encouraged them to hold their own parties and call it “Love is Greater than Hate” or something else that invites love.

Donations were accepted at the entrance for security and lawn repair.

Contributions from FāVS from readers like you make this news story possible. Thank you.

Matthew Kincanon
Matthew Kincanon
Matthew Kincanon is a communications coordinator with a journalism and political science degree from Gonzaga University. His journalism experience includes the Gonzaga Bulletin, The Spokesman-Review, Art Chowder, Trending Northwest, Religion Unplugged and FāVS News. He loves being a freelancer for FāVS because, having been born and raised in Spokane, he wants to learn more about the various religious communities and cultures in his hometown, especially Indigenous communities.

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Don Young
Don Young
11 months ago

Thanks for being there Matthew. It was great to visit with you and all the other folks. Jan and Don Young

Lynn Kaylor
Lynn Kaylor
11 months ago

Not all of us “chowed down” on all those “treats”. I only had a slice of watermellon and a bit of bread and I doubt that our friends from Beth Shalom indulged in the pork either. Spending the time to talk to the folks at Veradale was the REAL treat. Though their tradition radically differs from mine, it was still a lot of fun with good people. Kudos to Pastor Gen and company for a brilliant response to hate.

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