An episcopal church in Connecticut has been targeted for taking a stand against social injustice.
In 2014, Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford put up a “Black Lives Matter” banner on the fence of their property. The banner has been vandalized four times, most recently last Thursday.
The word “black” was cut off the banner leaving it to say “lives matter.”
The head of the church says she knew taking a stand would not be without controversy.
“You expect responses. You expect reactions,” said the Very Rev. Miguelina Howell, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. “When we say 'black lives matter' we are not negating that all lives matter. God created us all equal and black lives are not treated equal in this nation.”
Howell, who hails from the Dominican Republic said she is undeterred by the recent vandalism. She said the church will keep replacing the signs until the vandalism stops.
Pat Rice, an African-American member of the church, believes the Black Lives Matter movement is misunderstood by some, especially given the recent peaceful protest in Dallas that turned violent against police.
“People are frightened by the sign. It’s an emotionally charged sign,” said Rice.
In a separate incident, the original doors of the building were slashed. Howell says it will cost a fortune to have them replaced.
Christ Church Cathedral has stood on the corner of Main and Church streets for nearly 200 years, a witness to history, good and bad. Each week, it attracts all walks of life into its pews to pray.
"When I come here I know that it's a completely diverse in every single way community,” said parishioner Wendy West.
West, who is white, says she is completely comfortable with the message behind the “Black Lives Matter” sign, and says she believes the sign is appropriate in front of her church.
"I am imagining that that person [who vandalized the sign] maybe believes that they understand but hasn’t had the benefit of the types of conversations that I've been able to have,” added West.
West, who has participated in several peaceful protests for the Black Lives Matter cause, said conversations with fellow parishioners, like Rice, have opened her mind to see the inequality African-Americans face.
"I'm the mother of a grandson who's a young black male. He may be stopped and he may be looking at the end of the gun. So, we have that conversation all the time, just be careful don't make sudden moves,” explained Rice.
Leaders say they hope this is the last time the sign is vandalized but won’t be surprised if it happens again.
“I have to admit it’s discouraging,” said Rev. Jay Cooke. My courage comes out of the discouragement actually, to continue to witness to our faith.”
Parishioners hope the message of acceptance and equality rooted in their teachings will grow outside their church's walls as well.