The man accused of a hate crime against a Connecticut church may have been in great theological distress – according to the church’s pastor.
Rev. Kristina Hansen is senior pastor at Mary Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Milford, which has been openly defying the regulations of its governing body with its public affirmation of the LGBTQ community.
Charles Yarbrough told Milford police that he vandalized the church “because he felt the pastor and the church as a whole were supporting and pushing the LGBT agenda.”
Hansen said the first incident in late June took place during a community dinner for the homeless.
“The person went into the sanctuary and slashed open the seat cushions, which the pastor and liturgist would sit on and then dug a hole in the kneeling rail,” she said.
The second incident occurred in the church’s education building.
“The man found the door to my office and defaced it,” Hansen said. “He used a box cutter to tear the veneer off the door and also put some slices right through the door.”
Footage from a video camera led to Yarbrough’s arrest for the second incident.
The vandalism came after a special United Methodist General Conference earlier this year in St. Louis. Hansen was there and said she was disappointed that members from around the world voted to strengthen a ban on gay clergy and same-sex marriage.
“When we got back, the very first thing I wanted to get out into this community – where we stood. We developed two signs. One was an apology and the other sign was very pointed – To be clear, if you are queer LGBTQIA+ you are affirmed here.”
And although she didn’t think the signage alone led to the damage at the church, Hansen said she believed Yarbrough is in a very different theological place. She’s called for people to pray for him.
Yarbrough is being held on $50,000 bond.