Reverend Kathy Cooper-Ledesma was greeted with an ugly sight when she arrived at the Hollywood United Methodist Church on Monday morning. One of the church's banners in support of gay marriage was defaced--pranksters had carefully cut the word "equality" out of the poster. It now read, "All Are Precious In God's Sight. This Church Supports Marriage."
That morning, she took to the church's facebook page and posted a message to parishioners about the act. She said:
"As a church we do believe in marriage. But until everyone -- and that means everyone -- has the right to marry the one you love, regardless of gender, we will proclaim with our hearts and souls and yes, our banners that we believe in marriage equality. That's what it means to be peacemakers; to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God."
The attempt to silence Hollywood UMC's historic support for gay rights has in fact given the church a larger platform for their message. Hollywood UMC's marketing chair Chad Darnell noted, "what's been tremendous is the amount of support we've gotten from people that don't go to church, who have been responding on different blogs. It was picked up by the Advocate and Queerty--the big national gay news websites. To read the comments of people who don't go to church or don't even believe in god--some people were saying things like 'I don't even go to church, but I'm going to support an organization this Sunday that's fighting for my rights.' "
This Sunday, the church will be consecrating and then posting a new banner in response to the act. It reads: "Dear vandals, you can cut the word 'equality' out of a banner, but you can't cut the message out of the church. We will always believe in marriage equality." To the larger Los Angeles community, Reverend Kathy Cooper-Ledesma says, "come on in. Everyone is welcome here--we would love to have you as part of this congregation to help change the world." To the vandals, Cooper-Ledesma says, "we're praying for you."