Far South Side church's Pride flags set ablaze by vandals

In a blatant act of vandalism, one Far South Side church’s Pride flags were set on fire.

Their display was targeted just days after the church hosted a festival to kick off Pride Month.

Church leaders said they will not be intimidated by the person or people who did this. They added that Chicago only encourages them to continue sharing their mission.

"It was sadness and not so much shock as like, ‘wow, this is still a thing,’" said Maria Moser, chair of the Social Action Committee at Beverly Unitarian Church.  

During a month dedicated to celebrating and uplifting LGBTQ+ voices, members of the Beverly Unitarian Church recently made a disturbing discovery.

In the overnight hours of Sunday, June 9, Pride flags and decorations outside the church, located in the 10200 block of Longwood Drive, were torn down and set on fire.

Now, a twisted pile of melted plastic is left.

The church, which hosted a community Pride celebration just days earlier on Sunday, June 2, is calling it a "deliberate act of hate and violence."

"Our community does not stand for any kind of hate," said Ald. Matthew O'Shea, 19th Ward.

O’Shea condemned the act and encouraged other community members to stand with the church.

"We abhor this violent and disrespectful act which was directed at our church’s commitment to love and justice for all. We will not let such hateful and cowardly deeds prevent us from continuing to speak our convictions. Disagreement and dialogue are a necessary part of any community. But our disagreement should come through words, never through stealth, flames, and violence. Hate is unwelcome in this church," said Rev. Allen Harden, of Beverly Unitarian Church, in a statement.

Through adversity, Moser said they are looking forward.  

"Creating a more positive environment in our community and trying to make sure that in spite of this, we are still celebrating Pride here at our church," said Moser.

Now, new decorations have replaced what vandals destroyed. Additionally, on Sunday, June 30, Beverly Unitarian Church is holding an event to rededicate their flags and their pride.

"We’re inviting the community to join us, and we are extending our celebrations through the month of July," said Moser.

"In this world, we’re in of turbulence and turmoil, we need leadership, and for the church to say, ‘we’re moving forward, we’re not going to change who we are,’ I stand with them, and more importantly, our entire community stands with them," said O’Shea.

The incident was reported to the Chicago Police Department and the Commission on Human Relations.

For more information on the church’s ‘Can’t Stop Our Pride’ rededication event – scheduled for Sunday, June 30 at noon – click here.