Pastor finds opportunity in church hate crimes

"We're going to use this as an opportunity to reaffirm our values as a church"

Vandals sprayed hateful messages at St. Rose Catholic Church and Trinity Lutheran Church in Longview, October 23, 2016. (Father Bryan Ochs)
Vandals sprayed hateful messages at St. Rose Catholic Church and Trinity Lutheran Church in Longview, October 23, 2016. (Father Bryan Ochs)

LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — A pair of local churches became canvasses for hate when vandals sprayed nasty messages and anti-Semitic symbols on Monday morning.

Father Bryan Ochs says he will use a hate crime at his church as a teaching opportunity, October 31, 2016. (KOIN)
Father Bryan Ochs says he will use a hate crime at his church as a teaching opportunity, October 31, 2016. (KOIN)

But one pastor tells KOIN 6 News he plans to use the incident as an opportunity to teach his community about the harsh reality that racism still exists.

“It was very disheartening, very disgusting,” Father Bryan Ochs said.

Staff members who came to work at St. Rose Catholic Church Monday morning were shocked to find swastikas and racist words spray painted on doors and even a car.

Trinity Lutheran Church just across Lake Sacajawea dealt with a similar mess.

“Around here this type of behavior, it happens, you hear of it happening,” Father Ochs said. “Of course, this one hit close to home for us.”

Vandals sprayed hateful messages at St. Rose Catholic Church and Trinity Lutheran Church in Longview, October 23, 2016. (Father Bryan Ochs)
Vandals sprayed hateful messages at St. Rose Catholic Church and Trinity Lutheran Church in Longview, October 23, 2016. (Father Bryan Ochs)

But instead of letting the hate crime bring him down, Father Ochs said he will use it as an opportunity to teach children in his parish about the realities of racism.

“We’re going to use this as an opportunity to reaffirm our values as a church,” he explained. “There is a better way to live, [a] much more peaceful, fulfilling way to live that doesn’t involve racism or any other types of prejudice.”

KOIN 6 News contacted Longview Police about the incident but has not heard back.