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Community rallies after pride flag burned outside Canal Winchester church

Canal Winchester residents gathered at David's United Church of Christ to pray and send a message after someone burned a pride flag outside of the church.

CANAL WINCHESTER, Ohio — A community came together to show support for the LGBTQ community after a pride flag was lit on fire outside a Canal Winchester church Tuesday night. 

Within hours of the news, people came together outside David's United Church of Christ to pray and show support. 

"This is an inclusive church where all people are welcome," Reverend James Semmelroth Darnell said.

Darnell said he started getting calls, text messages and emails early Wednesday morning from people who saw the burned flag outside his church. 

He said for now, the flag is staying up.

"It says that we are still here. We are still sending this message of love and affirmation to the community," Darnell said.

For Jonelle Lancaster, who came out to support the church Wednesday, the flag is a symbol of all the hardships that people in the LGBTQ community have had to endure. She said this was a teaching moment for her and her children. 

"We have to go to the core of why we are still marching, why we are still showing up for events even as small as this. We are here we aren't leaving. We just want to raise our family in an environment that accepts them," Lancaster said.

As supporters stood around a charred flag, their message to whoever is responsible is simple.

"God loves you and we forgive you but we aren't going to be deterred from loving and affirming LGBTQ folks," Darnell said.

A member of the congregation donated a new flag to the church. Darnell said it will go up at some point.

The church later posted on Facebook that they did file a police report.

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