CANARYVILLE — Buckets of soapy water and elbow grease were used to remove gang graffiti from the front doors of the Union Avenue United Methodist church.
The graffiti was spray painted on the church’s front doors in the overnight hours of April 13, just a few hours before the start of the historic church’s Palm Sunday Service.
Ray Carey and Sharlene Lira, the longtime caretakers at the church who help run the its weekly food pantry, could only shake their head at the bad fortune.
“I just don't get it … we help feed 2,000 people a month from our community that are in need and to have someone disrespect the church in that way is beyond me,” they wrote on their Facebook page.
Lira wants to warn neighbors about the graffiti incidents, which she said include tags on other nearby buildings. She believes it’s the handiwork of one or two people driving around the neighborhood in a white van.
“If he’s pulled over on the side of the road, he’s tagging something,” she said.
Lira and Carey have for years overseen the weekly food pantry, which is heavily used by low-income families from around the Bridgeport and Canaryville neighborhoods.
The pair have put up with a lot of outside pressures to maintain the church, 4356 S. Union Ave., and have struggled to keeping its community resource programs afloat.
Having to deal with gang and gun issues from within the neighborhood has been particularly troubling. A few weeks back, a group of young men were flashing handguns at one another, right in front of the church, they said.
“Sometimes we feel like posting a big Methodist sign out there. A cross," Lira said. "There, we marked it too."