December 11, 2023
Annapolis, US 39 F

White faith leaders address community on theft and damage of signs

blacklivesmatterThe following is an open letter to the community by area white faith leaders on the recent incidents involving the theft and damage to several “Black Lives Matter” signs in the Annapolis area:

As white clergy and faith leaders living and serving in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, we stand in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

A Black Lives Matter banner placed at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, as well as banners at other sites,  have been routinely defaced. Faith communities could keep playing “whack-a-mole” and continue putting new banners up. However, we don’t believe that will solve the lack of understanding in our community. Instead, we call for a more honest conversation on racism in our city and county.

At first, we confess that we supported the statement, “All Lives Matter.” It is, of course, true. However, we cannot say all lives matter unless and until black lives truly matter. Here in Annapolis, black, brown, and poor people are subject to greater systemic injustices and discrimination than most white citizens. Until this is acknowledged and the work of healing has begun through developing interpersonal relationships, we are compelled to remind our community: Black Lives Matter.

As white clergy, we are aware of the great privilege we possess. We seek to leverage that privilege into an opportunity to discuss why black lives have been subject to repeated injustice and disrespect. The words of St. Paul remind us that “if one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor. 12:26). 

Conversations on racism will be held throughout the coming year to which all people are invited. Additionally, we encourage each person to educate themselves about racism and become aware of your own privilege if you are white or identify as white. Curriculums such as the one offered by Citizenship and Social Justice ( or Coming to the Table ( are useful starting points. You may contact any of us, too, to begin the conversation. 

Finally, the belief that Black Lives Matter banners might incite violence or are disrespectful to law enforcement has been a common misconception. We support and affirm the police and have included them in clergy conversations on race that have been occurring over the past year.  

We have hope that Annapolis can become a community where racism is something of the past and where all people are truly valued as equals. Until then, we will continue to proclaim, “Black Lives Matter.”

Ian Burgess

Downtown Hope

The Rev. Diana Carroll

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Eastport

The Rev. Dr. William L. Hathaway

First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis

The Rev. Sarah Lamming

The Rev. Christina Leone Tracy

Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis

The Rev. Peter W. Mayer

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church,

Westminster Parish

The Rev. W. Bruce McPherson

St. Martins-in-the-Field Episcopal Church, Severna Park

The Rev. Michelle Mejia

Eastport United Methodist Church

The Rev. Dr. Frederic Muir

Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis

The Rev. Dr. E. Bruce O’Neil

Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Annapolis

The Rev. Dr. David G. Oravec

St. Martin’s Lutheran Church,


The Rev. Chris Owens

Trinity United Methodist Church, Annapolis

The Rev. Dr. Heather Shortlidge

First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis

The Rev. Ryan P. Sirmons

The United Church of Christ of Annapolis

The Rev. Nicholas Szobota

Christ Episcopal Church, West River

Pastor Joey Tomassoni

Downtown Hope

The Rev. Joanna White

The Rev. Sara Yotter

Joy Reigns Lutheran Church (ELCA)

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