The Wayside United Church of Christ’s colorful welcome doors were defaced July 24, spray paint replacing the word ‘God’ in the message “God’s doors are open to all” to say “Life’s doors are open to all.”
Wayside is known for its accepting philosophy, tight-knit community and LGBTQIA+ outreach. Not everyone agrees with Wayside’s philosophy though, if the graffiti is any indication.
“I feel so sad that people are so lost that they can’t live in peaceful harmony with each other,” said Kim Larson, head of Wayside’s personnel committee and a participant at Wayside since the early 2000s.
Larson said since there is not much outreach to the queer community in Federal Way, many people find Wayside’s message important.
“So many people find our message important, even if they’re not Christian, even if they’re not involved in religion at all. It’s important to affirm peoples’ right to exist,” she said.
This is not the first time the doors have been vandalized, but after each defacement, the doors have been rebuilt and repainted better than before, according to Larson.
The church did not file a police report after this incident since the damage was fairly minor and was repainted shortly after the vandalism took place. The church has filed reports in the past when the damage was more extensive.
Larson said that if the vandalism continues, the church will most likely file a report again.
“We aren’t going to let hate win,” said Larson. “We’re not going to let some people who come in and spray paint our doors have the last word. That’s not going to happen.”
Wayside also hosted its first Pride Picnic on Saturday, Aug. 6. The picnic was originally planned to take place in 2020, but was delayed because of the pandemic. An estimated 200 people attended the event.
Activities and organizations included face painting, tug of war and cornhole games, a voter registration station, a pop-up library, free snow cones and drag performances.
“Some people have lived their entire lives in Federal Way and have never seen [queer] representation in their city,” said Allison Fine, founder of Federal Way Pride. “We’re not a tiny little town, you shouldn’t have to go to Seattle or Tacoma to celebrate pride. We should have our own representation in Federal Way.”
She said the Federal Way Pride organization plans to start meeting once a month to help build support and camaraderie within the queer community of Federal Way.