Letter to the editor: Stolen flag will be replaced

As many folks have heard, the Pride Flag that has flown in various versions for several years outside the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Sanctuary at the corner of Duane Ct. and Charles St. was ripped down in an act of vandalism Sunday afternoon. We filed a police report in case it proved to be part of a pattern affecting other individuals and institutions that our local police will need to address. But we as a congregation do not want the offender to be arrested or prosecuted. We intend to take it as a clear if sad confirmation that our commitment to the right of everyone to seek and humanely express their sexual and gender identity is visible to the wider community.

To us, this flag, like the Black Lives Matter banner on our building, speaks of the central role that work for justice, freedom, and compassion plays in our congregational life. There’s more to it than that, of course. We share joys and sorrows, we celebrate all that makes life beautiful. We seek more understanding of what is mysterious and sacred to us about the interconnected web of existence in which all of us exist. But support for all who are oppressed for various aspects of their identity is a vital part of who we are.

I want to assure the wider community that the flag is being replaced. Worship services like the one held that Sunday morning sharing the experiences of trans-gender people will continue to be a part of our programing. Recordings will continue to be posted on our website for those who can’t attend in person or on Zoom. We also encourage everyone to participate as they see fit in the Transgender Day of Visibility this Friday, March 31. It may mean going to the demonstration at the State House in Montpelier at noon. But it can be as simple as privately celebrating friends, family, and neighbors who identify as trans or, indeed, queer in any way.

Speaking to our thief, anyone who knows them, or anyone feeling an impulse to act in a similarly hostile way, I want to say that we hope you come to recognize there is a wider circle of love than whatever you have been taught. We believe this is true whether you believe in one God, many, or none. Please feel free to get in touch with me if this is something you’d consider talking about respectfully rather than via pointless hostility.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us in sympathy and appreciation of our support of these human rights. Thanks also to our spiritual neighbors and other institutions who fly the flag.

Rev. Barnaby Feder

on behalf of the Board and Congregation of the Champlain Valley UU Society.

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