When Pastor Randal Neufeld arrived early to open his church last Sunday he was greeted by walls covered in obscene graffiti.
But if you think he got angry, you don’t know West Park Church of the Nazarene’s pastor.
“Actually my first instinct was to feel sadness for the folks who had done this,” said Neufeld Monday.
His guess is the culprits were likely youth on a lark. But he wonders what pain and hurt may lie beneath the senseless vandalism only a few days before Christmas.
After Sunday morning, a half dozen members of the congregation took to their brushes and rollers to wipe away the crude and racist words and satanic symbols.
“By 2 to 3 p.m in the afternoon it was all just a memory,” he said of the graffiti that covered two walls and the side of a shed. “I wish people’s pain and hurt could be covered over so easily.”
If he was to meet the vandals he would give them a big hug, he says.
“I’d invite them in for coffee and just let them know that we love them and God loves them too.”
Neufeld said he and his congregation refused to let the damage to their church become a negative. Instead, it brought them closer together.
If ever there was a time to let others know they are loved it is Christmas and its spirit of peace and good will.
RCMP said they responded about 4:30 a.m. to a report of multiple acts of graffiti vandalism in the area of 57 Avenue and 57 A Avenue around. Besides the church the vandals hit West Park Lodge, the seniors home shuttle bus, the door of a nearby home, and parked cars.
Graffiti included vulgar words and drawings, racist terms and “666.”
Police are looking for help identifying those responsible.
“This appears to be a case of immature minds trying to offend as many people as they could while randomly damaging the property of residents and organizations,” says Red Deer RCMP Const. Sean Morris.
“RCMP are hoping people in the area may have seen suspicious activity, or have surveillance cameras that might have captured this anti-social and criminal behaviour. Graffiti like this upsets the entire community for its random and juvenile attempts at insult and offence as well as for the cost to victims of removing it.”
If you have information about this investigation, contact the Red Deer RCMP at 403-343-5575. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or at www.tipsubmit.com. If your information leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward up to $2,000.