ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A sign meant to promote acceptance and love outside of an Albuquerque church was defaced Thursday night. Now the church is asking whoever is responsible to come forward, to talk about it. 

For 80 years, La Mesa Presbyterian Church has been a fixture in the International District. “It’s been a safety, a sanctuary of safety for many, a place of home,” said Pastor Dr. Brett Mitchell.

Pastor Mitchell was drawn to the church for that reason. “What drew me was, it’s a wonderful integration of the diversity of the people, both in terms of sexual orientation, but also of gender, of race, ethnicity, ability, age, socioeconomic class, it was all it is all here,” said Pastor Mitchell.

A church, whose congregation is accepting of all people including members of the LGBTIQ+ community, had a message just outside its building “Abide no hatred”, over a rainbow backdrop. That sign was approved by the congregation, “Here love is practice that here, the Gospel of love is something that we want to share with others near as well as far away. So that’s why we put this sign up that said, abide no hatred,” said Pastor Mitchell.

But Thursday, not even a month after the sign was put up, Pastor Mitchell made a shocking discovery. The sign was ripped down from the plywood, and spray painted with the chapter and verses of a bible passage, Romans 1:18 through 32, a passage about condemning lifestyles, which the pastor says is taken out of context to spread anger. “This is known as a clobber verse or a verse that’s weaponized,” said Pastor Mitchell.

He said the church will continue to spread messages of peace, love and acceptance and a new sign is already on the way. They also have a message to the vandal.

“If you were offended by our sign, come talk to us, let us know what was offensive about that sign to you. And maybe we can have a meaningful dialogue and move forward in this community that we know as the International District,” said Pastor Mitchell.

La Mesa Presbyterian Church filed a report with APD. The pastor said for the time being, they plan to leave up the sprayed passage to encourage dialogue among the congregation and the community.