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Doors and signs are witness of love in Renton

United Christian Church of Renton has turned what could have been discouraging vandalism of rainbow doors it set outside in May in preparation for Pride Week into a witness of love. 

Renton United Christian set up display of “God’s Doors” in their yard.

Photos courtesy of Renton Christian

Each door displayed one word to say, “God’s doors are open to all.”

“In less than a week after putting up the doors, we heard words of heartfelt appreciation from cyclists passing by, received many messages of support and encouragement, and were covered in the local paper,” said Cynthia Meyer, the pastor. 

“One night the doors were knocked down, but early the next morning Good Samaritans had them up again, speaking love to all. We will persist!”

They were knocked down twice and put back up by people passing by or neighbors.

One of the teachers at Phoenix Montessori

Door with “all” damaged.  Other doors damaged later.

School, which rents the church’s building, made the replacement “All” sign.

Then there was a “Chalk-In” initiated by folks from the neighborhood, many of whom brought their young children and wanted to engage them in learning to stand up for love and inclusion,” said Cynthia.

They decorated the sidewalk in front of the church with chalk messages and art to express that they cared.

Church and neighbors repair and reinstall doors.

Vandalism, which damaged the front of the doors and attempted arson, is being investigated as a hate crime.

That led to an outpouring of prayer and support.  Members and neighbors worked together to replace and repaint the doors.

“We created an additional door to say thank you to our neighbors and all who offered support and assistance in so many ways,” Cynthia said.

The vandalism led to an outpouring of prayer and

Church and community hold a vigil.

support, so the church, with attendance of 40 to 50 on a Sunday, repaired/replaced the doors and later displayed them in the Renton River Days Parade.

Cynthia said the damage done to the doors reflects the damage that those in the LGBTQ+ community experience far too regularly.  So while she was sad it happened, she was not surprised

The response has been heartening, encouraging

people to be active in their support and care.

Following on Facebook, it’s clear the congregation affiliated with the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ, continues to find creative ways to express love in the community.

Monday, June 17, staff found damage on the door that said “All”—a rip in it and signs of an attempt to set it on fire. After the damage to two other doors—“Leviticus” was written on one, a firecracker taped to the back of another and a possible explosion attempt of another— on Wednesday, June 19, a GoFundMe was started to fund security cameras after a second round of damage was being examined as possible arson. It raised $1,393 in one day.

In early June, a neighbor commented that the church is sharing “brave love.”  Cynthia commented that said, “We do our best to live it out in and outside our doors.”

She added that the city of Renton “did some wonderful things to celebrate Pride this year, including flying the Pride flag for the first time over City Hall June 17 to 23.

Members appreciated that so many neighbors and people in the community shared the message of love, giving the church new doors, offers of their time, skills and financial support, and so many other kind gestures.

“Our message of open doors remains and our love for all God’s children is stronger than ever,” said Cynthia.

The church held a community prayer vigil the evening of Friday, June 21, gathering people on the church lawn.  Many from across the community and region, including many UCC, ecumenical and interfaith leaders and laity.

Little Free Pantry is another outreach of church

In late June, the church decided to offer a simple ministry to care for neighbors through a Little Free Pantry.

They built a structure with shelves and doors and set it on a pole.  The congregation collected food items single serve or pop-top for those who might not have access to a kitchen, along with toiletry items and other items. People in the church and community are invited to simply put what they can in the Pantry itself, or to call with a larger donation, like funds to cover the minimal construction expenses.

Most of the materials were donated, but they bought items to build the door.

Much like a Little Free Library, anyone is welcome to “Take what you need. Leave what you can.”

On July 15, a day after opening, the pantry was serving neighbors.

July 27, members put God’s doors on wheels lined up and walked in the Renton River Days Parade.

On Aug. 25, the church affirmed that their doors are open to all as they welcomed teens looking for a safe place to be themselves and enjoy Game Night.

Since the crime, they set up a new security system.

They have painted their sanctuary entrance to be more welcoming and hung the “Be the Church” banner to “keep our broad commitment to love and justice visible to all,” said Cynthia.

On Sept. 1, they posted a video of the Burma Shave style road signs they planted along the street in the church’s front yard.  In rainbow colors, the read: “Love your neighbor who doesn’t look like you, think like you, love like you, speak like you, pray like you, vote like you. Love your neighbor.    Embrace them as your own, no exceptions. Be the church.”

Cynthia preached one recent Sunday about the call to build a longer table. Immediately after worship, members put the tables in the fellowship hall into one long table for a potluck.

 “We are proud to be affiliated with both the UCC and Disciples, two Jesus following, justice seeking denominations,” she said.

Members of the UCCs ecumenical partner, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), took social-justice actions at their July General Assembly similar to those taken a month earlier by the UCC General Synod on global migration, private prisons, interreligious relations, plastic use, energy innovation, denouncing hate, Latinx ministries, sexual violence, nuclear war, climate justice, immigrant children, opioid addiction,

Vice-Moderator Jolynn Kenney and Property Chair Cameron McLaughlin are coordinating various follow up efforts.

They are part of the church’s new Innovation Team, inviting visitors and others into the life of the church, and creating new opportunities for service, outreach and fun—like the teen game nights.

“We are seeing new visitors every week, with quite a few becoming integrated into the congregation. Soon we will have new members. We are appreciative of the Spirit’s work in our congregation and community and for the many expressions of support we have received,” Cynthia said.

The vandalism and developments were covered regularly in the local newspaper, The Renton Reporter, drawing wider awareness and attention to the church’s witness and the community’s response, she added.

The doors are part of a national movement among UCC churches with information at

For information, call 425-226-3080, email, or visit


Pacific NW United Church News copyright © Fall 2019


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