Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Utica presented a new banner in support of social justice movements after others were vandalized this summer.

What You Need To Know

  • The Unitarian Universalist Church of Utica held a dedication ceremony for a new banner in support of social justice

  • Black Lives Matter and Gay Pride flags were stolen from church property this summer

  • Church leaders say the vandalism won't deter the community from showing their support

"We will not be stopped by vandalism," said Reverend Erin Dajka Holley.

Black Lives Matter and Gay Pride flags were vandalized and stolen off church property in July, just days after they were put on display.

"It was heartbreaking that in this community, someone would feel the necessity to come on to church property and deface our building by tearing down our own statement, coming out of our very strongly held religious beliefs," Dajka Holley says.

Months after the flags were stolen, the church dedicated a new replacement banner, which was designed by a member of the congregation and printed in Utica.

"It matters a lot to me because I think that everyone needs, especially these oppressed groups, they need someone to stand up for them," said Hazel Torruella, a church member.

"Especially in this time now, when there's so much hatred going around, we need to show where we stand. This is to let the public where we stand, where we are," Branwen Drew, a church board member, added.

Religious leaders from other faiths also showed their support. 



"I spoke on behalf of InterFaith Matters, which is an interfaith clergy organization here in the Mohawk Valley. It was signed by about 10 ministers and other religious leaders in the area that supported this," explained Rabbi Peter Schaktman of Temple Emanu-El in Utica.

And despite this summer’s vandalism, church leaders say they won’t be deterred from showing support for social justice.

"We will continue to be put forward to the world our dedication to this work towards justice, and the banner is only the first step," said Holley.

The church also removed some small trees and adjusted lighting to ensure the banner would be more visible.