It is with both sadness and determination that we acknowledge that our “Black Lives Matter to God and to Us” banner was vandalized sometime Saturday night, Nov. 28, or early Sunday morning the 29th.

The word “BLACK” was sliced out of the sign. A police report has been filed and we are cooperating in the investigation of this criminal act, and encourage anyone with pertinent information to contact the Evanston police.

More importantly, we as the Session of Northminster, are recommitting ourselves to the principles that inspired us to place the banner on our property almost six months ago. At that time, we said, and we hereby reaffirm:

“We proclaim with this banner the theological truth that black lives matter to God. Through it we also prayerfully point to the work that we must do as a church, as individuals, and as a society so that, according to God’s vision, a day will come when every life – already valued and beloved by God – will be equally valued by all of God’s children. This all-embracing love of God is what we seek to proclaim in our world.”

It is indeed the very first thing we say in our congregational mission statement: With Jesus Christ as our guide, Northminster Presbyterian Church will love friend and stranger as God loves us, welcome all, worship with joyful hope, serve our communities with compassion and commitment, and care for one another as we grow together in faith and understanding.

We want those who see us but do not know our community – who have never set foot in our building, joined us in worship, or participated in our programming – to know who we are and what we believe and value.

Particularly in this time when joining us in worship isn’t easily accomplished, we want all to know without a doubt that black lives matter to us. We have been deeply humbled by the reaction of the Northwest Evanston community and beyond.

Within hours, neighbors and other faith communities were responding with words of condemnation of this violent act, but also with many offers of support and solidarity.

Within hours, the vandalized sign had been transformed by their additions, as demonstrated here:

We thank our neighbors for their support and encouragement.

The frightened or angry actions of a few will not deter us from humbly seeking and doing justice in the name of God. Even so, we hope and pray that this act of destruction can lead to a more productive dialogue both inside and outside of Northminster regarding the struggles, fears, and concerns of all peoples as we do the hard and holy work of dismantling white supremacy and surrendering the morally bankrupt gilded cage of white privilege in which so many of us live.

Inspired to transform what was intended for evil into something positive, and with the cooperation of an anonymous donor, Northminster now intends to purchase up to ten banners identical to the one that was defaced. In time, we will use at least one to replace our own banner.

We will offer the others to our sister faith communities in Evanston, regardless of denomination or creed, who wish to join the already-strong inter-faith effort of Evanston houses of worship committed to racial justice and equity. Until such time as we replace our own banner, we believe it is important that the defaced banner remains on display, so that we can all confront the reality that the fear or hatred that led to its defacement is both real and all-too-present in Evanston in 2020, and also be inspired by the generosity of spirit and grassroots commitment demonstrated by our neighbors’ caring response to the vandalism.

This act was discovered literally on the dawn of Advent, the season of waiting and preparation for the coming of the Prince of Peace, on the day tradition recognizes as the Sunday of Hope.

Our hopes for the transformation of our church, our neighborhood, our City, and our nation are undeterred. May the same God who surrendered the protections of divinity to dwell among us as Mary’s child, who gives birth to all of our hopes, grant us the courage, strength, vision, and wisdom for the work ahead.

The Session of Northminster Presbyterian Church

Reverend Michael D. Kirby