'A sign of hope': Arlington Heights church responds to vandalism with parade

  • Lisa Kelsey of Arlington Heights carried an illuminated pride umbrella Sunday during First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights' Pride Parade in Lights.

    Lisa Kelsey of Arlington Heights carried an illuminated pride umbrella Sunday during First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights' Pride Parade in Lights. Karie Angell Luc for the Daily Herald

  • A crowd of about 200 marched around First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday for a Pride Parade in Lights.

    A crowd of about 200 marched around First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday for a Pride Parade in Lights. Karie Angell Luc for the Daily Herald

 
Updated 1/18/2021 8:43 AM

A crowd of about 200 people, many wrapped in holiday lights and carrying signs with the slogan "Love boldly," marched around First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday to celebrate the church's Pride Parade in Lights.

Marchers carried candles Sunday during the Pride Parade in Lights hosted Sunday by First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights.
Marchers carried candles Sunday during the Pride Parade in Lights hosted Sunday by First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights. - Karie Angell Luc for the Daily Herald

But beyond the festive atmosphere of rainbow masks, pride flags and glow sticks was a serious message of strength and resilience from church members.

Over the last six months, the pride flag prominently displayed outside the church has been torn down or stolen six times, most recently just before the new year.

In response, church members organized Sunday's parade to send a message of love.

Lead Pastor Melissa Earley speaks to members of First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday before they took part in the Pride Parade in Lights.
Lead Pastor Melissa Earley speaks to members of First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday before they took part in the Pride Parade in Lights. - Karie Angell Luc for the Daily Herald

"What defines our mission and ministry is to love boldly, because a better world is possible," Lead Pastor Melissa Earley told the crowd gathered in front of the church. "I hope that after tonight you will continue to show radical inclusivity and hospitality wherever you are and to take the rainbow parade to your homes."

About 200 members of First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights marched Sunday in the church's Pride Parade in Lights. The church organized the parade in response to several instances of vandalism to its pride flag.
About 200 members of First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights marched Sunday in the church's Pride Parade in Lights. The church organized the parade in response to several instances of vandalism to its pride flag. - Karie Angell Luc for the Daily Herald

The church of about 800 members openly welcomes the LGBTQ+ community. Thom Frerk, who chairs the church's Reconciling Ministry, said it has several programs for the community and has received the support of groups such as the Pinta Project and the League of Women Voters.

While the repeated acts of vandalism are discouraging, Pastor of Faith Formation Lynn Mikels said she was encouraged to people of all ages taking part in the parade Sunday.

Some of the nearly 200 marchers who took part in the Pride Parade in Lights outside First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday pass by illuminated trees and a cross on the lawn of the church. The church organized the parade in response to several instances of vandalism to its pride flag.
Some of the nearly 200 marchers who took part in the Pride Parade in Lights outside First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights on Sunday pass by illuminated trees and a cross on the lawn of the church. The church organized the parade in response to several instances of vandalism to its pride flag. - Karie Angell Luc for the Daily Herald

"I think that this is a sign of hope for the community," she said. "I think that every person is precious and loved by God and should be welcomed wholeheartedly into the life of the church."

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.