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Unitarian church hangs Black Lives Matter sign for 3rd time

Twice since Jan. 8, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin has placed a “Black Lives Matter” banner on its building.

As of early Friday, the banner has been stolen twice.

Undeterred, the congregation replaced the banner again Saturday morning. The new sign — purchased to replace the first one stolen — arrived in time to replace the second one that was taken, the Rev. Leslie Mills said.

The Elgin church, as part of a initiative started at the denominational level, isn’t just putting up a sign about the Black Lives Matter movement, Mills said. The church and other Universalist churches around the country are talking about what the movement means in their sermons and discussions, she said.

She believes Elgin’s church has been lucky. Other churches have been vandalized for posting Black Lives Matter signs, she said.

So far, the sign, which sits along Highland Avenue in far-west rural Elgin, has only been stolen. The church has not had corresponding vandalism.

Neither have there been any calls from neighbors complaining. But on a Sunday shortly after the sign was first put up, someone driving past the church did yell “all lives matter” at departing parishioners, she said.

Beth Cooper, of Bartlett, was one of the church members who came out Saturday to help replace the banner.

She wishes those who don’t agree with the message would talk to the church and its members about what the movement means instead of just ripping down a sign with which they don’t agree.

“That is what an informed populace does — talks things out. You don’t tear it down. We talk to each other,” Cooper said.

Elgin’s Unitarian church has had a history of involvement in social issues going back to the Civil Rights movement, Mills said. The support of Black Lives Matter is part of that, she said. But it is not meant to be interpreted as black lives are more important.

All lives matter, Mill said, “but we live in a world that doesn’t treat all people that way. We want to lift up the lives off all that are marginalized and make a world where all people are treated like their lives matter, having equal opportunity.”

The Unitarian Universalist Church also has a long history of being a mostly white congregation so reaching out to minority groups is important to challenge beliefs, she said.

Susan Anderson, of Elgin, is one of handful of African-American members of the Elgin church, and came out to watch the new banner go up.

“The Universalist church is committed to social justice,” Anderson said.

Many traditional black churches have erected Black Lives Matter signs, she said. “For a predominantly white denomination to say Black Lives Matters — that means something,” she said.

Lt. Chris Collins, of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, said because the thefts occurred during the evening and night hours, the church will receive extra patrols. Detectives are investigating the thefts, he said.

The church is in the process of adding additional security measures as well, Mills said.

Source: chicagotribune

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