Serbian Orthodox Church was vandalised overnight. President of the Serbian Community and church, Miroslav Perisic cleans the graffiti from the church walls.

A GEELONG church is shocked by an act of hate-fuelled vandalism just before a visit by its global leader.

A swastika and other offensive symbols were among the spray-painted messages that greeted parishioners when they arrived at the Serbian Orthodox Church in Hamlyn Heights for Sunday morning's service.

Churchgoers said the racist graffiti was a reminder of atrocities carried out against their people during World War II and the horrors their forbears endured in prisoner of war camps.

"This is aggressive, and it's very deep and meaningful to the people who have lived through these times or have loved ones who did," Lily Stefanovic said.

"Their desire when they came here was to build a new life and build a church and continue to be who they are; they wanted to leave all that pain behind, so this is very distressing to people. They are traumatised by these reminders."

The church community moved quickly to wash the graffiti off walls and paths yesterday, and urged for a measured response to the attack.

Greg Dundas
Picture: Mike Dugdale
Geelong Advertiser