PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A church in Lansdale was forced to remove the phrase 'Black Lives Matter' from the sign in front of their building following a series of angry calls, emails and even threats against them.
Reverand Paul Lutz, Senior Pastor of the Trinity Lutheran Church, told Dom Giordano on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT that their original intention was to open up a dialogue to confront racism and other issues of race.
"We, as a faith community, started asking ourselves some questions about racism in our lives, racism that we participate in, voluntarily or willingly. We asked the congregation to give us some suggestions about how we might respond to it, educate ourselves about it...A couple of the ideas were around the Black Lives Matter movement or slogan. We have a church sign out front. We put slogans on all the time. We've tried to use that sign in a way that would cause people to reflect on things, laugh about things, or otherwise spend that time when they're waiting for the traffic light in a more positive way. It made sense just to add that Black Lives Matter to help us think through racism here in greater Lansdale."
Family Ministry Pastor Dane Skilbred added that the church intends to offer a message that is open and inclusive.
"As people of faith, we make broad statements like all lives matter or all are welcome at our congregation. Every Sunday, right before communion, I say all are welcome three times. But I often make some very particular promises to particular people, saying that Christ's body and blood are given for you, just in case those people didn't hear that promise for them as individuals. So, in the same way I make those big broad promises that all lives matter, I want to make a commitment to our brothers and sisters who are hurting, that haven't heard that God's love is for them and that our love is for them, by saying something like black lives matter because they've expressed that they are hurting and we, as a community of faith, want to make sure that all of our brothers and sisters hear about God's love and our love for them."
Lutz said they took Black Lives Matter off the sign after multiple police shootings occurred shortly after and because they did not want to be connected with the negative messages that later emerged from some protesters.
"There really isn't a national Black Lives Matter movement and most people have recognized that some of the movement has been hijacked by people who have hate and violence and anti-police, anti-white [messages] behind what they're after. That's not what we're after. We got caught up in all this confusion. We appreciate this opportunity to clarify and separate ourselves our from those movements that we're not part of."
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