Pastor Myrtle Daniels of Mount Zion AME Church in Woolwich arrived for services Sunday to a shocking act of vandalism.
The sign in front of the historic church normally reads "Morning worship, all welcome" in 2-inch tall plastic lettering.
On Sunday, it included a racial slur.
Local police and the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office are seeking the person or people who rearranged the sign's letters to incorrectly spell a racial epithet.
"I was somewhat shocked in these times people still do that," said Daniels, pastor of the predominantly black church for the past four years.
"I'm not naive. I know these things go on," she said. "The fact the church has been there so long, I'd question why someone should feel so inclined to put something out there that's so distasteful."
Daniels' small congregation was assembled at the one-story frame church just prior to the start of the weekly 10 a.m. service.
A daughter of one of the church's members first noticed something was awry, bringing the slur to her mother's attention.
Another church member went outside, then brought Daniels to see it.
The church is on a quiet street just behind Kingsway Regional High School. So far, police have no idea who may have tampered with the sign.
"It's very disheartening in this day and age you have to see this kind of stuff," said Police Chief Russell Marino. "It's ridiculous."
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Lucas K. Murray