When one door is damaged, another is rebuilt.
The rainbow Pride Doors display outside of Federal Way’s Wayside United Church of Christ was vandalized Sunday night, but the incident is now an opportunity to heal the community and promote acceptance, the pastor said.
The six colorful doors, put up in honor of LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, read: “God’s doors are open to all.” The doors sit in front of the church on Southwest Dash Point Road.
On June 22, Wayside United Pastor Allysa De Wolf discovered from concerned citizens that the display’s doors had been knocked down. The glass window panes were shattered and the hinges to help the doors stand had been broken.
The vandalism is being investigated as a misdemeanor malicious mischief call, according to Federal Way Police Cmdr. Kurt Schwan. There is no indication or evidence that the vandalism is an act of malicious harassment or racially motivated, he said.
Officers are attempting to locate surveillance video footage as part of their investigation. There is no suspect information at this time, Schwan said.
“It’s always heartbreaking to experience something like this,” Pastor De Wolf said. “On one hand, I’m also not surprised… there’s a lot of hate and ignorance surrounding the LGBTQIA community.”
The hate often comes from people of faith, she said.
“That’s also why we think it’s so important to make a bold statement that God accepts everyone no matter what their gender and sexuality is,” De Wolf said.
The doors made their first appearance outside of the Federal Way church in June 2019, receiving an outpouring of love and support from the local community, De Wolf said. The church displays the doors initially for Pride Month, then for the rest of the summer.
De Wolf, who identifies as queer and is married to a woman, grew up in an extremely conservative church in Orange County, Southern California. She experienced the condemning hate firsthand.
“I really understand it to my core of being the accepting place that we are and a place that’s willing to say Christianity can be really hurtful and damaging to people, and that we’re sorry that’s happening to people,” she said.
As the community quickly rallied to repair the display, resident Allison Taylor was able to secure six new doors and paint that had been donated from the Federal Way Lowe’s Improvement store.
A community door re-painting party will be held at 4 p.m. June 24 at the church, 2000 SW Dash Point Road in Federal Way.
“Even if this was some bored teenagers knocking them down, I think in our country right now when tensions are so high, especially for marginalized people, it’s important to have these opportunities to stand up for the marginalized and be able to be a symbol of love and acceptance and unity,” De Wolf said.
Wayside believes God’s love extends to all people and strives to be both a witness and an ally to help facilitate conversations and healing in Federal Way, she said.
This is the first time the display has been vandalized. De Wolf said she was shocked it didn’t occur when the doors were initially placed on display last year.
De Wolf has been the pastor of Wayside for nearly two years, and while the Pride Doors display is a national movement, it was something she began at Wayside to be the “only out and proud” LBGT+ community-affirming church in Federal Way.
Although the city sits close to progressive cities such as Seattle and Tacoma, Federal Way is a mix of people who deserve to know Wayside United is a safe place for all.
“Often times LGBTQIA people don’t feel as safe in suburbia as they do in the city,” she said. “It’s more than just accepting [the queer community], it’s about affirming and embracing and empowering them to be the hands and feet of God.”
The church will host a dedication ceremony for the new doors at 7 p.m. June 26. The event is to show Wayside United continues to be dedicated to making Federal Way’s community a more safe and a more welcoming place for all people — especially the marginalized, she said.
The event will be live-streamed via the Wayside United Church of Christ Facebook page.
De Wolf emphasized the church is not angry or upset. They see this incident as an opportunity of healing and a chance to show love to the Federal Way community.
“Because, as we know, hate does not drive out hate.”