MCCC Church Arson: Hate Crime Suspected
- CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE ---
From the News Service of the Universal Fellowship of
Metropolitan Community Churches
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
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
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, CONTACT:
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