UU church to replace Black Lives Matter sign

  • The Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church intends to put up a new Black Lives Matter sign, after a vinyl banner with the same message was stolen from the church steps in May. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • The Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church’s Black Lives Matter banner. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, August 10, 2016 6:11PM

More than two months after a vinyl banner proclaiming Black Lives Matter was stolen from the Unitarian Universalist Church in Peterborough, the church will once again be proclaiming its support for the movement – this time from a more secure location.

“When [the banner] came down earlier this year, we had a meeting following one of our services in June, and decided unanimously that we would put the banner back up,” said church member Jill Shaffer Hammond of Peterborough in an interview Tuesday. “Because our position hasn’t changed. We have members of color that we feel should be stood up for and that we care about, as well as the whole broader historical and political issue.”

The banner will be replaced by a 2-foot by 4-foot sign that will be placed on the interior of the church’s second story window to discourage a repeat theft of the banner, said the Rev. Diana McLean, who became settled at the church on Aug. 1.

The Unitarian Universalist Church is founded on a number of guiding principals rather than a religious creed, the first two of which are the belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and the second of which is justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

These two tenets are the guiding force behind the church’s position on the Black Lives Matter movement, said Shaffer Hammond.

McLean said that she understands that there are some people who object to the church’s advocacy for the Black Lives Matter movement, but said the concern often stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of what that movement is about.

“Often the objection is that the Black Lives Matter movement is inherently violent or anti-police, which is not the case,” said McLean.

The other objection that is often heard is that the motto of the movement implies that “only” black lives matter, said McLean. But the real impetus behind the movement is due to an inherent social justice inequality in how black people are being treated, she said.

“If a house on your street is on fire, do you say, ‘All houses matter,’ or do you put out the one that’s burning?” said McLean. “It’s the idea that ‘All lives can’t matter until black lives matter.’”

McLean said that the banner is representative of the church’s position, but that the church will be working on an ongoing conversation and education efforts around the movement and social justice at the church.

“It’s not just putting a banner up,” she said. “We will be continuing open discussion and education.”

The banner will be put back up today, and the church is inviting the public to attend a short dedication ceremony where McLean will bless the new sign and reaffirm the church’s position, as well as passing out a list of resources for those who would like to know more about the Black Lives Matter movement’s official positions and the issues that have spurred it.

The dedication will be held at 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the steps of the church.