Unity vigil held for Church of Nazarene after racial, anti-Semitic vandalism

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL)  — An Iowa City church that was vandalized with graffiti is seeing support from the community and other churches.

Last week, the Church of Nazarene was the target of vandalism when someone spray painted it with Swastikas and hateful racial messages on the outside of its building.

Afterward, the church’s pastor, Teresa Stecher, told KWWL the church would not live in fear.

Outside, a banner was recently put up right above one of where one of the messages was scrubbed off. On it was the biblical verse.

“Dear friends, let us love one another for love is of God,” it read.

On Tuesday, the Johnson County Interfaith Coalition held a vigil at the church to send a message of support and unity.

“We wanted to show the strength of the community. The strength of the community coming together and rallying together to show that these activities will not render what we do,” Pastor Anthony Smith said.

Smith is the president of the interfaith coalition which brought religious leaders from more than 10 denominations in the area to come to speak at the church.

“We show unity in the face of adversity,” Smith said.

The turnout of support, which filled every seat in the church and left some standing,  had Paster Stecher nearly speechless.

“I’m overwhelmed. What an honor to have all these people here come out and show their support,” she said.

Police are still investigating the vandalism. Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone with information that can lead to charges.

Jalyn Souchek

Jalyn Souchek

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