Anti-Chinese graffiti has been splashed on the side of a closed Ovington Avenue church who’s new Asian-American owner has a controversial plan to tear down the place and replace it with an apartment building.
The former Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, between Third and Fourth avenues, was tagged with the words “very sad,” “$ad,” “Bad idea,” “Why” and “Back to China,” about two weeks ago, shortly after plans for demolition of the 70-year-old building were announced by its new owner, Xi Wu.
Wu would not comment on the graffiti, but said he is continuing with his plans to develop housing on the site.
Tensions over the destruction of Bay Ridge’s churches have been riding high since the demolition of the nearly century-old Bay Ridge United Methodist Church — commonly known as the “Green Church” — on Fourth Avenue at Ovington Avenue.
“We’re watching the whole history go out of the block,” said preservationist Victoria Hofmo. “It has already lost one church, do we really need destroy another?”
The former pastor of the church said he can sympathize with community disappointment over the destruction, but finds it unacceptable to target the new owner for the demolition.
“The church closed down simply because there was not enough financial support,” said pastor Khader El-Yateem. “It is the new owners right to be here and it’s unfortunate that people are resorting to this.”
The Salam Arabic Lutheran Church opened as the Salem Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1942 and was renamed after the Arabic congregation took over in 1995. The New York Lutheran Synod sold the church for $1.5 million last year.