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Please note: the image of vandalism from St. Luke, Seattle contains potentially triggering slurs.

Several churches across the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia were vandalized on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with messages of intolerance and political divisiveness. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett, and Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle were all targets of these acts of hate. The leaders of all three communities have responded with such grace and love in the midst of such ignorant and destructive acts of intimidation, that we have decided to share their statements below with the wider community.


From the Rev. Canon Britt Olson, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Seattle:

On the weekend we honor Martin Luther King Jr. and the gospel vision of God’s love for all people, St. Luke’s, Ballard was tagged with hate-filled graffiti. Because of the strong and broad community of support from both housed and unhoused neighbors, we were informed just hours after it occurred and our team of St. Luke’s Shepherds were able to block this message from sight before anyone arrived.

We stand with those who are persecuted, as part of the Body of Christ and in the communion of saints. This means a radical welcome for all people at the table, both at the Eucharist and at our daily breakfast. We are guided by our vision; We seek to form Beloved Community, which is welcoming and diverse, with Christian worship and service at the heart, and by core values of Beloved Community + Loving Service + Sacred Space + Spirit Filled + Sustainability.

It is deeply disturbing to be vandalized, targeted on neighborhood blogs and to receive letters, emails, and phone calls threatening the church for its mission of caring for those on the margins. It is infinitely worse to know that this hatred is the daily experience for many in our community.

I wear a bracelet, purchased from the Episcopal Bookstore before it closed, with St. Patrick’s breastplate engraved on it. It is a continuous prayer for those we serve and care for and for the larger community, including our sister congregations in the diocese.

I bind unto myself today: God’s power to guide me; God’s might to uphold me; God’s wisdom to teach me; God’s eye to watch over me; God’s ear to hear me; God’s word to give me speech; God’s hand to guide me; God’s way to lie before me; God’s shield to shelter me; God’s host to secure me.


From the Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton, Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett:

Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. preached that love on the level of society looks like justice. Over the course of this past weekend and MLK celebrations across the nation on Monday, various hate groups used the holiday to express their beliefs through acts of intimidation, desecration, and violence. Over Monday night, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle was vandalized with hate graffiti.

Trinity Episcopal Church was also vandalized that night with graffiti on our main entry doors that includes an inverted cross. Though this symbol in early Christianity was known as St. Peter’s cross and venerated, in modern times it has become associated as an anti-christian sign. If the first image is of a sword pointing upward beside the second image of an inverted cross, then the symbolism together is meant to be interpreted as “a war has been declared against Christianity” – a message intended to provoke an anxious reaction by someone seeking to sew or deepen social divisions. A police report has been filed noting this vandalism as a hate crime. Kelly DiCicco and Ralph Gilcreest have been working to remove the paint, and the wood of the doors and entry need to be sanded and re-stained. If you are able to help with this work, please contact the church office.

In the meantime, my sentiments echo those of the dean of our cathedral writing in response to the vandalism, “I find myself prayerful—for those whose lives are filled with such hatred that they can justify desecrating a church, for this community that we might bring the fullness of our hearts and souls into this call to be the Body of Christ (even when some in the world choose to hate us), and for this nation whose political discourse seems to condone acts such as this vandalism as justifiable in the course of partisan disagreements… I am hopeful, that their crime will only strengthen our resolve to be the Body of Christ in a broken, hurting world.”


From the Very Rev. Steven L. Thomason, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral:

I write today to share the sad news that the cathedral façade was vandalized during the night.

The photo… shows the message, which is clearly intended to incite us to some similar reaction of negativity and anger, but those are not the emotions I feel on seeing their message. I am saddened by their destructive impulse, which will cause us to clean the surface and repaint it at considerable expense. I find myself grateful that their message did not target a group of individuals based on race, orientation, or identity, using derogatory terms for injurious purposes. In the hours since seeing this early this morning, I find myself prayerful—for those whose lives are filled with such hatred that they can justify desecrating a church, for this community that we might bring the fullness of our hearts and souls into this call to be the Body of Christ (even when some in the world choose to hate us), and for this nation whose political discourse seems to condone acts such as this vandalism as justifiable in the course of partisan disagreements. And if I am honest, I am a bit amused by the graffiti—as if the perpetrators think they will have accomplished something by doing this. We are a community that holds a broad swath of political opinions, and we are the richer for that diversity. And I am hopeful, that their crime will only strengthen our resolve to be the Body of Christ in a broken, hurting world.

The irony is not lost on me that they did this on the heels of this nation’s annual observance of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his cause of non-violence and justice for all. We can debate how best to engage that work, but we cannot conclude that the work of civil rights is complete. As the prophet Amos said, and Dr. King wrote from his cell in the Birmingham jail: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” We have work to do, my friends, in the cause of justice. Let us do so in God’s name, with courage and faithfulness, and let us remember that that arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Vandalism Across the Diocese on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

12 thoughts on “Vandalism Across the Diocese on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

  • January 24, 2020 at 9:04 pm
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    It may sound strange to some, but I think this is a very good sign! We as Christians, as Episcopalians, having an impact on the world around us. Society dose not want to hear the Gospel message , much less see it in action. I say we move forward in living out the Gospel of Jesus, open to all, caring for everyone.
    Some can deface our buildings, threaten us as persons, but the Gospel Message is unstoppable . Just saying, Christians are the strongest when threatened. Now is our time to stand tall with the cross. Now is our time to ACT and not wait to re-act.

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  • January 25, 2020 at 3:00 am
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    I am so sorry that this happened at your church. I attend Church of Our Savior in Martinez, Ga. As an African American woman here I have grown accustomed to such ill behavior. Your response will help others learn how to confront situations like this, head on (calling it what it is), with prayer, and pressing forward with God. We shall overcome, and in the meantime I join with you in prayer. Thank you for your wonderful commitment to living and moving in the Spirit of the Lord. God’s Peace and Love, Vanessa

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  • January 25, 2020 at 3:05 am
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    Please note: I mean growing up in the area, the south, I have seen swastikas, abuse of the cross, KKK references, etc since I was a child. Please feel free to alter my comment to reflect the same and my apologies for the oversight.

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  • January 25, 2020 at 6:28 am
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    Thank you for your calm words and reasonable incite. Graffiti is something that I particularly distain.
    People coming in the dark to disfigure something of beauty or to leave a message of hate because they don’t have the courage to express their opinions openly in a reasonable way that would allow for discussion on both sides, to me is the act of cowards. I have made copies of the prayer and plan to have them in basket at our Annual Meeting this Sunday to be offered to our congregation.

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  • January 25, 2020 at 6:54 am
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    It never ceases to amaze me that the people who are so consumed by hate and decisiveness are the very ones whom those in power abuse;
    cutting Medicaid, health care, disability and on and on. And, yet it is Christianity who works to ameliorate the abuses with love and Outreach. Satan is truly active.
    P.S. I am an Episcopalian and a proud member of St. Martin’s in the Desert, Pahrump, NV

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  • January 25, 2020 at 11:24 am
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    I am deeply saddened by these hateful attacks, and I am humbled by your gracious Christ-centered responses. May our great God comfort you and give us all the courage to stand strong in love.

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  • January 25, 2020 at 11:24 am
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    The hatred expressed by the vandals only is proof that “His truth is marching on”. Being persecuted for righteousness means these churches must be doing something right!

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  • January 26, 2020 at 9:40 am
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    It’s always the crazy white guy!! Always!!!

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  • January 26, 2020 at 11:54 am
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    Why has this happened? Why has no one in political positions or the public responded? People echo the beliefs of their leaders. If our leaders continue to argue over useless things and spend time spreading fear and hate while ignoring the Word and Power of God all the lost souls in this country will turn the tides back to chaos. Where are the faithful, the Christians?

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  • January 26, 2020 at 2:40 pm
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    Very sad. We stand with you, as with ALL. “All are welcome.” Many blessings. I can’t speak for my church, but I know we love you!

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  • January 26, 2020 at 3:10 pm
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    I hope this is handled accordingly by the community, and the leaders of the communities. Blessings.

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  • January 26, 2020 at 3:30 pm
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    As a mature woman in this life, I can picture myself shaking my finger at those who are leaving their hateful messages on these places of worship and shouting “Does your mother know where you are?”!
    Life continues its changes and this kind of behavior makes me angry at first, then sad for the minds that have enough hate in them to promote this destruction. How do we as individuals promote love in our families, friends and neighbors to create a society that discourages this….. love from the beginning of life when a new baby is born and continues throughout the life of each person. Looking at little children playing in the neighborhood and at the park makes me ask myself and God, “Is it possible for these sweet children to grow up to hate and hurt other people?” I continue to keep asking God a lot of questions…..

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