Congregants returned to Sunshine Cathedral for the first Sunday services since learning about the hate-motivated attack directed at the church.

Last weekend someone placed rambling, anti-LGBT, conspiracy-laden signs on church buildings. They were taken down before most people arrived, and details didn’t emerge until later in the week. A police report was filed, and police are investigating.

Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins opened the 9 a.m. service by addressing the attack.

“Sadly, we live in a time of increased bigotry which is why Sunshine Cathedral must remain committed to a message of justice, love, and compassionate community living.”

Surveillance video along with the signs and a threatening email are being reviewed by police. No arrests have been made.

After the service, Executive Minister Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin spoke with SFGN and said violence against churches has been with us for a long time, but this one stands out because it’s very personal.

“The specific nature of this one is a little rattling for the community because they don’t expect it. You’re attacking me now. Forget about what the signs say, it’s that someone did this. We live in a time where people feel free to just do that at churches, or any other place."

Security Concerns

Some days there is activity at the church for up to 20 hours, as dozens of groups, such as SunServe and 12-step programs also use church facilities. Griffin said the leaders were notified and everyone is keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. A few years ago staff went through the “active shooter” program, and people have been reminded of that training.

Patrick McGeachen arrived early on Sunday and told SFGN that carrying on was never in doubt.

“I know there is crazy out in the world but I’m not gonna let that dictate my life. Everyone at this church is part of my family, so not coming back would be like abandoning my family.”

Fellow congregant Gary Grieve said this is part of a bigger plan.

“At the end of the day I think we are here for a purpose and I believe that purpose will keep us safe. I believe that keeps us together and that’s the only way to get through these times.”

Griffin said while everyone must be alert, Sunshine’s mission will not be deterred.

“This is a reminder that people will do things anywhere and in the end love wins. We are going to do what we have to do to maintain this place as being safe and welcoming to everyone.”