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Veradale UCC Hosts ‘Love Lives Here’ Potluck, Marking Anniversary and Defying Hate Crime

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News Story by Mary Feusner

Veradale United Church of Christ aims to dismiss the suggestion of silencing a hate crime by hosting an anniversary celebration, titled “Love Lives Here” this weekend.

The potluck will take place on Sunday at noon, following the 10:30 a.m. service, at 611 N Progress Road in Spokane Valle.  

According to the Rev. Gen Heywood the potluck is open to anyone who wants to enjoy food and games. 

Vandalism Sparks Community Potluck; Four Face Hate Crime Charges

On July 2, 2023, Heywood and the members of Veradale UCC invited the community to a “Love Is Greater than Hate” potluck. The celebration was thrown in response to the vandalism that took place at the church on June 25, 2023. 

According to the Spokesman-Review, Katherine Blycker, Brigid Shannon, John Rhodes and Jacob Easton, have been charged with a Hate Crime Offense, which is a class C felony. 

The vandalism included dumping diesel fuel on the church’s front lawn to spell out Lev 2013, referencing the bible verse, Leviticus 20:13. The suspects also tore down three Black Lives Matter and Pride flags that hung from the church and stole 25 Pride flags. 

“The sad part is that our mayor still has not spoken out against the hate crime,” said Heywood. 

Pastor Seeks City Support Amid Safety Concerns

Heywood did acknowledge the two City Council members who attended last year’s “Love is Greater than Hate” potluck, saying having them there was fabulous. 

Heywood said, the biggest sadness is that some of the members with small children have stopped coming in fear for their safety. 

“They made an attack on the full breadth of our community,” said Heywood,  

Heywood said she hopes the City Council will at some point make a statement that they support the church’s efforts to try to overcome hate and that they, themselves, are seeking to make Spokane Valley a place where everyone is welcome. 

“Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to raise a felon,” said Heywood. 

Standing Up Against Hate; Marking a Milestone

Heywood explained that the congregation is going through with the court case because they must be a voice for victims of hate crimes who are silenced. They are not doing it for revenge or to hurt those who hurt them. 

“If we don’t stand up about this, if we don’t speak about it, it gets worse,” said Heywood.

Veradale’s congregation is also celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Heywood being pastor of the church. 

According to Heywood she joined the church June 16, 2014. 

Pastor Praises Congregation, Emphasizes Love’s Triumph

Heywood spoke highly of the church’s members. 

“The folks are genuine and I love that about this church,” said Heywood, “They are so generous with their time, their talent and their treasure to be able to exist in this place. It is an incredible church.”

Heywood spoke about there already being plans in motion for next year’s anniversary potluck. 

“Fear can keep us from loving and without love we cannot be the best of our humanity,” said Heywood. 

According to Heywood, these celebrations are important because love is greater than hate.

Mary Feusner
Mary Feusner
Mary Feusner is a senior at Washington State University, pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism. Her passion for history and religions, which began when she was a child, along with a class taught by Tracy Simmons at WSU, led to her initial interest in religion journalism. Beyond writing, Mary has a love for reading and collecting fiction novels. She currently serves as a student ambassador for the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at WSU. She is eager to gain experience in journalism and make meaningful contributions to the field. She is excited for the opportunity to learn from the dedicated journalists at FāVS News.

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