Pastor Lindsey Long Joyce (left) has been leading her church in its fight to fiercely support their LGBTQ members. Credit: Jonathan Ballew/Block Club Chicago

ROGERS PARK — A United Methodist church that’s taken a pro-LGBTQ stance had its sign in support of full inclusion stolen from its grounds.

The United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Ave., saw its sign announcing full support of LGBTQ people within the church removed in an act of vandalism on Oct. 1, pastor Lindsey Long Joyce said.

The sign read “We support the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ and ALWAYS WILL.” It was erected on church grounds in 2019, after a conference of United Methodist churches voted to tighten their laws to exclude LGBTQ members from marriage and ordination.

Rogers Park’s Methodist church has remained fully in support of LGBTQ inclusion within the church. That will not change, Joyce said.

“We had folks in the congregation who were pretty upset by it,” she said. “We’ve always been welcoming. This doesn’t change that.”

A pro-LGBTQ banner was stolen from United Church of Rogers Park. Credit: Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago

The vandalism comes as the United Methodist Church continues to grapple with whether to allow the full inclusion of LGBTQ people within church life.

The denomination may have voted to forbid same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ people, but not much has been done to enforce those laws at its local congregations, according to the Tribune.

A new denomination — the Global Methodist Church — was launched this year to enforce those laws and accommodate more conservative Methodist congregations, the paper reported.

RELATED: United Church Of Rogers Park Devastated By Anti-LGBTQ Ruling Fro Methodist Conference — But They’re Not Backing Down

The sign hanging outside United Church of Rogers Park made it very apparent where the local church stood on the issue. But apparently not everyone in the neighborhood agrees.

“The language of that sign was very important,” Joyce said. “Some person was upset we were being very clear on where we stand.”

More troubling is the vandalism comes amid an uptick in persecution of gay and transgender people across the country, Joyce said.

Some states are rolling back protections for transgender children and adults. St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Logan Square was picketed and threatened with violence this year over its pro-LGBTQ stance, Joyce said.

Given the larger conversation over LGBTQ rights, Joyce said her church will continue its support of the gay community despite the recent vandalism. A new sign has already been ordered, she said.

“We’re seeing this huge backlash nationally,” Joyce said. “We’ll put it back up as many times as we need to.”

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