Was Church Vandalized Because Of Name?

This is a photo of the Radical Life Church sign that was stolen from their location on Cleveland Crossing Drive over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The church has been renamed the City Outreach Church but some of the signs with the old Radical Life name still remain. Contributed photo.

Members of a new Johnston County church, whose focus is on preaching the Gospel and outreach in their community, can’t imagine who is vandalizing their property.

Senior Church Pastor Gabriel Rodriguez said when the small church opened in a storefront on Cleveland Crossing Drive near the I-40 / NC 42 interchange they had the name Radical Life Church. The name was perceived among some to have a negative meaning and the church soon changed its name to City Outreach Church.   Not all of the signs with the old church name have been removed.

Since opening their doors in February Pastor Rodriguez said the church has had three separate incidents of vandalism. He told WTSB News on Wednesday he believes they are all related.  He hasn’t ruled out the original name may have something to do with the incidents.

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend someone removed the Radical Life Church sign that was in front of the building. In two previous incidents, yard signs with the Radical Life Church name were also stolen or damaged beyond repair.

Altogether the vandals have stolen or destroyed signs worth about $800, according to Pastor Rodriguez.

WTSB asked Pastor Rodriguez what message he would like to send to the thief or thieves if they happen to read this article.

“To be honest, I don’t know what to say,” he said in a telephone interview. “We are trying to keep the peace with everyone and be a positive influence in the community and create a positive community.”

“We tried to change the name to improve things. We are not anything they are thinking. We are trying to create a positive view of the community.”

The non-denominational church is still growing. Rodriguez said the goal is for the church to eventually reach out to help the homeless in the Cleveland community, battered women, and people with drug addiction.

The City Outreach Church holds services every Sunday morning and Wednesday night.

If you know anything about the vandalism and sign thefts you can contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5000.

Pastor Rodriguez said the incidents will not deter the church from their outreach.   As one page of their website reads, “The best is yet to come.”