Episcopal Bishop issues statement about Lander church vandalism; Calls it a “possible hate crime”

Bishop John Smylie, the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming has issued a statement regarding the vandalism to a Lander church.

Trinity Episcopal Church on South 3rd Street was tagged with black spray paint. The vandalism likely occurred late Thursday or early Friday and included at least one homophobic slur, as well as vulgar images.


A stretch of sidewalk about one-quarter mile away from the church near the Lander City Park was also tagged with vulgar graffiti.

You can see photos and more details about the vandalism here. 

Below is a statement and video from Smylie:

We have just been made aware of a possible hate crime involving graffiti to Trinity Episcopal Church in Lander.  This graffiti appears to have been motivated by gender-related bias issues. As Bishop of the Diocese of Wyoming, I personally abhor this act and pray that those responsible will be held accountable and have their hearts changed.  I appeal to the people of the State of Wyoming to stand with and to pray for those targeted in the Lander community. Please pray also for the congregation of Holy Trinity, and their Rectors the Rev. Walt and the Rev. Janet Seeley.   

As followers of Jesus Christ, we in the Episcopal Church believe in the inherent dignity of every human being. We believe that God loves you – no exceptions.  We believe in a loving, liberating, and life-giving God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have a legacy of inclusion, aspiring to tell and exemplify God’s love for every human being, regardless of sexual identity or orientation. In the Episcopal Church and here, in the Diocese of Wyoming, we believe that everyone is a child of God and that all have full and equal claim to the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.

We are continually striving towards greater justice and inclusivity. On this day when Matthew Shepherd is laid to rest at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., we pray that healing and reconciliation will open our eyes to our collective blindness, much as Bartimaeus’ eyes were opened in this week’s Gospel.  No one is as blind as they that refuse to see, to understand. We pray for an opening of eyes, of hearts, and of minds.

If you are an individual, who, because of your gender identification or sexual identity feel unseen, unheard, attacked, or pushed aside by the world we live in, I want to let you know that we in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Wyoming stand beside you. We see you. We hear you and we support and love you.

With God’s Grace,

The Rt. Rev. John S. Smylie

Bishop, Diocese of Wyoming



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