By Elizabeth F. McNamara

When the worldwide Methodist General Conference rejected a compromise in late February that would have allowed individual congregations to decide whether or not to allow gay marriage, it was a blow for members of the United Methodist Church in East Greenwich.

The East Greenwich church has been what’s called a “reconciling congregation” – one seeking inclusion of people of all sexual orientation – since 2014. But it wasn’t until this most recent action on the part of the General Conference that the congregation decided it needed to wear its colors on its sleeve, so to speak. They put up a rainbow flag signifying their solidarity with members of the LGBTQ community. Actually, the first flag was a piece of fabric left over from Joseph’s coat of many colors, from a dramatization of the Old Testament story.

But they ordered a more traditional rainbow flag and when it arrived earlier this month, they hung it up by their sign on South County Trail. It lasted just five days. Sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning, the rainbow flag was cut down.

“It was only a flag, of course,” wrote pastor Bill Trench in a recent blog post. “It’s not a big deal. No one was injured and there was no related property damage. But now that it is gone it feels like we have lost more than a flag. How can anyone hate anyone that much?”

Trench said they had no information about who might have cut down the flag. Rather, they are focusing on replacing the flag. Several people, from the congregation and not, have offered to buy a new flag for the church. One is on order. As they wait for their new rainbow flag to arrive, that coat-of-many-colors fabric is back there as a place holder.


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