Shock as church boards daubed with crude abuse

ANTI-SEMITIC messages have been left on blackboards outside a church.

Tuesday, 8th August 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:54 am
St Columba

St Columba, in Fareham, put out blackboards outside their church inviting people to suggests ways it could improve.

But instead, crude, racist and anti-Semitic messages have been left.

Reverend Sally Davenport said: ‘We are very disappointed that a small group of our community has used them in such an appalling way.’

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The #FreshColumba initiative was intended to get ideas from the community in order to integrate the church further in to the community.

Ms Davenport added: ‘It was a real shame these boards were misused as we were using them in order to offer things that would be of social benefit.’

Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Councillor Sean Woodward, said he urged the church to remove the boards.

He said: ‘It is absolutely shocking and I urged the church to remove the boards.’

The church, teamed with Holy Trinity Church in Fareham town centre, is within the Anglican Diocese of Portsmouth, and welcomes its community to prayer every Sunday.

Councillor Peter Davies, who represents the ward in which the church is situated, said: ‘The comments publicly visible in the middle of my ward were totally and utterly unacceptable.

‘The church says that it was a way to engage with young people and encourage them to give their views.

‘However when I saw the boards go up I knew what would happen.’

Cllr Davies added: ‘One could argue these boards should have had planning permission but they had good intentions and perhaps they were not aware of what would happen.

‘Where we go from here is that I would call on the church to use those of us who work with young people and instead of doing this as a narrow church initiative, to spread it wide and use local youth groups and schools.’

The church posted an apology on their social media sites.

It said: ‘The #FreshColumba campaign has had a slight setback today as it has become necessary to take down the comment blackboards.

‘We apologise to anyone who saw the graffiti on the boards and encourage you all to share your positive ideas on what might work for the community in the Columba space.’

Between the church and Holy Trinity, around 300 people are registered with the church, with around 50 attending St Columba on a Sunday.

Among the crude messages left in chalk, there were supportive and helpful suggestions from local residents.

Revd Davenport added: ‘One of the positive comments that we have is “could we have a community garden” and another was an idea for a soft play area for children, which are things we can go away and look at.’