Church turns cheek after attack on sign
By CANDACE RONDEAUX, Times Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG -- The message of the week at the Allendale United Methodist Church was simple, but mysterious: "SIGN SHOOTER WE PRAY FOR YOU GOD LOVES YOU."
The Rev. Lisa Degrenia just wanted to let the person who shot air-gun pellets at the church's new marquee on 38th Avenue N know that there were no hard feelings.
"We just wanted to say that we're praying for the person that shot at our sign," she said.
A staff member discovered on Oct. 15 that the sign had been vandalized. No one witnessed the shooting and nobody was hurt, according to Degrenia.
"We just thought it was a random act of violence," Degrenia said.
The seven pea-sized pellets were powerful enough to short out the sign's light, breaking some of the bulbs and several of the 6-inch high letters. Church staff contacted the police after discovering the damage.
A Bible study group at the church came up with the idea of sending a special message to the shooter the following day. "I guess they just thought that would be a Christlike way to deal with the vandalism," Degrenia said.
But church members are still upset because the church used about $5,600 from memorial funds to have the sign erected about a year ago. Degrenia said the sign's location is ideal because some 26,000 cars drive by on 38th Avenue every day. Now Allendale United Methodist will have to pay about $3,600 to have it repaired.
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