On Sunday, May 7th, the Pride flag was torn down from the Light Street Presbyterian Church in the Maryland neighborhood of Federal Hill.
The Light Street Presbyterian Church has worked to create an affirming and welcoming space for LGBTQIA+ people since 1996. Pastor Tim Hughes Williams, the church’s pastor, is upset by this incident and the impact it may have on the church’s very visibly LGTBQIA+ congregation. In response to this incident, he says:
‘What they told me is that he was very clear that he was doing this because he felt like it is an abomination to love the LGBTQ community, and he wanted to make it clear that he didn’t support that by destroying our flag (…) I identify as a member of the gay community. I think that’s exactly why the flag is here. We can’t afford to be subtle about the fact that this is a safe space.’
The church has established a GoFundMe to raise money with the purpose of replacing and installing a new Pride flag. Any extra funds donated beyond their goal will be donated to FreeState Justice, the only statewide LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization in the country that combines direct legal services and policy advocacy to serve the needs of LGBTQIA+ communities.
FreeState Justice’s Executive Director Phillip Westry met with Pastor Hughes to personally thank him and the congregation for the donation. In regards to this meeting and the situation as a whole, Phillip Westry says:
‘FreeState Justice is deeply troubled by this incident and our hearts are with the Light Street Presbyterian Church’s congregation and the Federal Hill community. In my meeting, I reassured the congregation that their presence and the church’s message are extremely necessary for our local community and that this should only strengthen their resolve to accept all going forward. They have FreeState Justice backing their efforts and I ensured them we will do everything in our power to help the Light Street Presbyterian Church recover from this.
I would also like to extend a deep thanks for their choosing to donate any extra funds raised by their GoFundMe to FreeState Justice. This action shows their support of our mission to provide direct legal services for victims of crime – including hate crimes – and advocate for Maryland’s LGBTQIA+ community in the legislature.’
FreeState Justice invites you to get involved and join our efforts to make this state one where all people can live authentically and without fear. If you would like to learn more about the Light Street Presbyterian Church and its mission, please visit here.
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