MERIDEN — A Meriden church will be honoring the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by raising a Black Lives Matter flag this Sunday.
Unitarian Universalist Church, 328 Paddock Ave., will “rededicate itself to the cause of racial justice when it reinstalls its Black Lives Matter flag to the church’s front porch,” according to a press release.
Replacing the flag comes after three previous flags were torn down by vandals, the Rev. Tony Lorenzen said.
“When vandals tear down our Black Lives Matter flag, or steal the Rainbow flag honoring LGBT folks (as they have in the past), they not only disrespect people of color and gay and lesbian people, they deny the church its voice in the community,” Lorenzen said in the press release.
The church is inviting anyone committed to racial justice and freedom of religion to join the ceremony on Sunday at noon, following the 11 a.m. church service.
The church is expecting officials to attend the ceremony, including City Councilor Michael Rohde and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Rohde said the Universalist church is known for its social action against racism in the community.
“I applaud their sustained effort to make a statement that they are against racism in any form,” Rohde said. “They want to make it clear that this is something they don’t want to have in the community.”
The flag raising ceremony will be a place for people to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day because an annual breakfast at Maloney High School was canceled for the second year in a row, due to the pandemic.
Organizers of the breakfast are hoping to plan an event later in the year.
“With the flag raising on Sunday, the church invites people of goodwill to stand up for the Constitution, for justice and equity, for brotherhood and sisterhood,” the press release said.
If the weather forces a cancellation, the church will announce it on Sunday by 9 a.m. and the ceremony will be rescheduled to noon on Tuesday.
“I think it’s really important to enforce the ability to speak freely, which is in the Constitution, freedom of religion and freedom of speech,” said Steve Volpini, a member of the church. “It’s a matter of protecting our rights.”
In addition to the event Sunday, an in-person ceremony is scheduled for Wallingford Town Hall on Monday, after being virtual last year.
The Public Celebrations Committee planned the event, which will feature student essays, artwork and readings from students.