‘Open and affirming’: Chesterland church replaces stolen pride flag dozens of times

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CHESTERLAND, Ohio (WJW) — At the Community Church of Chesterland, everybody is welcome.

“We are open and affirming. Three years ago, we put a pride flag at the corner and then the Faith Proclamation Committee at the church decided we should fly it all the time,” said parishioner Dan Craig.

A pride flag hangs Monday night from the church’s welcome sign at the corner of Caves and Wilson Mills Road in Chesterland. The flag is new because the previous one was stolen over the weekend.

“The flag was there on Friday. When a church member went to do something Saturday night, it was gone.  She then reported it to police,” said Craig.

WJW photo

According to Craig, this is the 28th time a pride flag has been stolen from the church.

“Sometimes they last a week. Sometimes they last a month. This spring, it’s been every week,” said Craig.

Every time, Craig buys a new flag and replaces it. He says the thefts were random before but they really started to pick up when the church went virtual.

“It’s really hurtful when your own community comes at you like that. This is such a personal thing, the pride thing, for some of our members,” said Reverend Dr. Carol Vaccariello, interim pastor.

According to Vaccariello, the congregation is part of the United Church of Christ. And they’ve made it part of their ministry to be open and affirming to all.

“When we find this person, I am going to invite them to church,” said Vaccariello.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Chesterland Police.

Meantime, Craig says several people in the community have donated to help them replace the flags.

If you would like to donate, head here.

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