SUMMIT, NJ - The Unitarian Church in Summit (UCS) will raise a Black Lives Matter banner on the front of its building, in partnership with Fountain Baptist Church, at 5 p.m. Sunday, September 25. 

Before the unveiling, the group intends to march down Springfield Avenue, pending approval by the Summit Common Council -- the issue is on the Council's September 20 agenda -- and in coordination with Mayor Nora Radest and Police Chief Robert Weck. The march would begin at 4:15 p.m. at Christ Church, located at 561 Springfield Avenue.

As stated on its website, Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based national and international organization working for the validity of Black life. #BlackLivesMatter was created in 2012 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin.

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Both churches are inviting, in addition to their members, the community at large are to the march and the banner-raising, which will be led by ministers of the two congregations. Local dignitaries, clergy from other houses of worship and youth from the Stand Together Against Racism (STAR) program have also been invited to participate.

A joint Black Lives Matter team of more than 20 people, headed by Claudia Cohen of UCS and The Reverend Vernon Williams of Fountain Baptist Church, are coordinating the event. Fountain Baptist Church and UCS will raise banners of the same design and invite other houses of worship in Summit to do the same.

Summit Unitarian Universalists (UU) voted unanimously on April 10 to take a stand affirming that Black Lives Matter and pledging to oppose America's "stain of racism." According to the Church, the banner is "a public expression of this stand, taken in response to the disproportionate loss of Black lives and the symptoms of systemic racism in our country, including police violence."

The vote followed the congregation's participation in a UU curriculum on race as well as a series of book discussions, films and interracial dialogues sponsored by the Summit Interfaith Council's Task Force on Dismantling Racism. 



The partnership between Fountain Baptist and UCS developed out of these Task Force-sponsored events, which began in 2015.

“We learned firsthand through the Dialogue Circles how life-transforming talking about race and privilege can be,” said Reverend Emilie Boggis of the Unitarian congregation. “Our banner is a symbol of our ongoing commitment to the healing and transformation needed in our country in this time. We hope people will look beyond the divisive rhetoric to the real work we’ve done.”

The group has drafted a set of frequently asked questions regarding Black Lives Matter and the banner-raising ceremony, which can be found by visiting ucsummit.org.

The Unitarian Church in Summit is located at 4 Waldron Avenue, corner of Springfield Avenue. Fountain Baptist Church is located at 116 Glenside Avenue.

For further information, contact Reverend Emilie Boggis at emilie@ucsummit.org.