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MCCC Church Arson: Hate Crime Suspected

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  • U.M. Cornet
    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE --- From the News Service of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches Website: http://www.ufmcc.com Arson At
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 27, 1999

      From the News Service of the Universal Fellowship of
      Metropolitan Community Churches

      Website: http://www.ufmcc.com

      Arson At Predominantly Gay Harvest Metropolitan Community Church
      (Denton, TX) Hate Crime Suspected; FBI Launches Investigation

      Feb. 26, 1999 -- Harvest Metropolitan Community Church, Denton, Texas, a
      congregation of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community
      Churches, has been the target of vandalism and arson.

      The vandalism began in January with the theft of a rainbow flag from
      the front of the church. In a separate incident, the church's flag was
      set on fire, destroying the flag, causing damage to the flagpole and
      scorching the ground around the flagpole.

      In the most recent incident, an accelerant (believed to be gasoline)
      was thrown on the church sign and the front driveway of the church and
      set on fire.

      The police, fire department and County Fire Marshall have filed
      reports and have taken the remains of the church sign for analysis and
      later use as evidence.

      Because the vandalism involved fire on property owned by a church,
      the crime was reported to the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
      Firearms (ATF).

      After confirming that an accelerant had been used in the crime, the
      ATF in turn reported the arson to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's
      Hate Crimes Task Force. An FBI agent has been assigned to the church to
      investigate the incident.

      According to church officials, there is no evidence at this time to
      clearly identify the arson as a hate crime, as the church has not
      received recent hate mail or hate phone calls.

      However, over the past year the church has faced an organized
      campaign of community opposition to their growth and expansion.

      The church is heartened that both local and federal authorities are
      viewing the three incidents as related, continuing their investigations
      and looking for hate crime links.

      The Rev. Colleen Darraugh is senior pastor of the Denton, TX
      congregation. E-mail messages of love, support, encouragement and
      prayers may be sent to the congregation at Harvest@....

      Over the past 30 years, more than 20 UFMCC congregations have been
      targets of arson and firebombing, and many more have been victims of
      vandalism and desecration. In the past year alone, bomb threats were
      made against the Cathedral of Hope MCC, the world's largest
      predominantly gay congregation, and MCC Bournemouth in Bournemouth,
      England, and death threats were received against the MCC pastor and
      congregation in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

      "The recent vandalism and arson against Harvest MCC is sad yet
      powerful testimony to the unfinished justice work to be done on behalf
      of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons," said the
      Rev. Troy D. Perry, Moderator of UFMCC and a past delegate to White
      House Conference on Hate Crimes. "I call upon all people of goodwill to
      uphold the Rev. Colleen Darraugh and the members of Harvest
      Metropolitan Community Church with their prayers during this time."

      "For far too long, hate crimes against predominatly gay houses of
      worship have flown beneath the radar of public perception. Far too many
      have been overlooked by the civil authorities and the majority have
      been ignored by the mainline press," Perry added.

      Now in its 30th year, UFMCC is composed of 300 congregations in 15
      countries. Additional information on the church is available at the
      denominational website at http://www.ufmcc.com


      James N. Birkitt, Jr., UFMCC Communications Department
      8704 Santa Monica Blvd., 2nd Floor
      West Hollywood, CA 90069
      Tel. (310) 360-8640
      Fax: (310) 360-8680
      E-mail: UFMCCHQ@...
      website: http://www.ufmcc.com
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