Iowa City church “will not live in fear” after vandals graffiti racial messages

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — A pastor whose church was sprayed with graffiti said the congregation will not live in fear.

The Church of the Nazarene in Iowa City was vandalized with spray-painted swastikas and hurtful messages over the weekend.

Swastikas, bible versus, and racial messages greeted Iowa City Senior Pastor, Teresa Stecher, Sunday morning.

“At first, I think I was shocked and certainly angered; would probably be the most immediate response,” said Stecker.

Immediately she jumped into action, trying to cover the graffiti before service began at the multicultural church.

“Quickly worked to clean it up, as I knew we’d have services all that day,” said Stecker.  She continued, “Wanting to protect those who would be offended or humiliated by what was said and the use of the swastika.”

During the services, messages of love and belonging were shared. The congregation even taking time to pray for whoever did this.

“I think, for our multicultural congregations, it’s processing it and again reassuring them that we’re all standing together, standing against racism, standing against prejudice, and these comments,” said Stecker.

Today, they were increasing security, while Iowa City Police search for answers.

“Clearly, it’s not welcome. We want to be made aware of these situations.  Whether people think they can provide information for us or not, we want to be made aware of this so we can collect information,” said Iowa City Police Public Information Officer, Sgt. Derek Frank.

The church and IC Compassion carried on, business as unusual. For now, the stain of the messages sit as a reminder.

“Being able to say to my staff, too, that one, we’re not going to walk in fear. Two, we’re going to keep doing the right things. We want to make sure this place is a safe place and welcoming place,” said Stecker.

Police said whoever did this could face charges of criminal mischief for destroying property. And if it’s determined this was a hate crime, those charges could be more serious.

Iowa City Crime Stoppers is offering a reward up to $1,000.  Contact them via their website: http://www.iccrimestoppers.org/

Ashley Neighbor

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids
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