Vigil Against Hate
A gathering to decry hate-motivated acts of violence, to remember those who have been targeted by hate violence, and to affirm our commitment to building a community and a society in which diversity is a source of strength.
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It Can Happen Here

The other day a church in our community that ministers to gays and lesbians, among others, received a vile threat of arson and worse on its web page guest book. Word began to spread by e-mail at the start of the weekend.

The next Sunday morning, in the small, elegant, chapel -- space provided by a more mainstream congregation, members of more than a half a dozen other churches and synagogues joined with the members of the threatened congregation in solidarity.

In the golden glow of the stained glass windows one after another visitor rose to convey messages of love and prayer. As the service drew to a close, large numbers of members of the host congregation and another congregation a mile away filed into the room, to the melody of organ music and a joyful hymn. Every inch along the walls and in the aisles was filled with worshipers praying with and over the threatened members. It was another powerful statement of community. One at a time representatives of the visiting congregations rose to express greetings of love and prayer.

Community Response

Procession and Vigil


November 21, 1999

5:00 p.m.


Metropolitan Community Church of the Incarnation / Pilgrim Congregational Church
460 Lake St.

For more information contact Rev. Bradley Mickelson at (708)383-3033

For information on Vigils in other cities and ongoing events contact:
The Interfaith Alliance
1012 14th Street, NW Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 639-6370
FAX: (202) 639-6375

For follow-up information regarding the Oak Park Vigil write to:
Leonard Grossman Len @

Check this web page from time to time for further information.

Oak Park residents, civil rights organizations, churches and synagogues joined together Thursday evening, Oct. 7, to host "Stop the Hate," an interfaith candlelight vigil against hate violence.

The Oak Park candlelight vigil, in the middle of the Village -- the lawn of First United Church, 848 Lake Street -- was part of nationwide campaign for healing in the midst of hate violence. These acts include the brutal murders of James Byrd in Texas, Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, former Northwestern University Coach Ricky Byrdsong and Jewish targets in Los Angeles, Evanston and Skokie.

Oak Park citizens of all ages, races, and religions participated in this beautiful and powerful event.

The program included:
  • Movement: "How good it is when kindred live in unity." Led by Brother Joe Kilikevece from the Shem Center.
  • Candle Light Vigil and Procession.
  • Remarks: Rev. David Ostendorf, Director Center for New Community
  • Music: Grace and Glory Choir.
  • Longfellow Special Teens presentation - "Hate Crimes."
  • Call for Congressional Action Against Hate Crime - Alan Amato, OPALGA.

A broad base of support for the Oak Park vigil emerged. Representatives of many community organizations got together to plan the vigil, an event which gave people in Oak Park and our surrounding communities the opportunity to stand up publicly against hate violence in our community.

This vigil was part of the national Stop the Hate campaign sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and The Interfaith Alliance Last year, the Fellowship of Reconciliation sponsored interfaith vigils in more than 20 states in memory of James, Matthew and all victims of hate violence in our society.

This year additional communities throughout the United States held Stop the Hate vigils on Oct. 7 to raise a united voice against hate violence and thousands more pledged to speak out when people are attacked due to their race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, gender or disability.

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Leonard Grossman

Modified: 11/13/1999 3:11:04 AM

A large number of community organizations and individuals worked together to support this event. Among those indicating their support were representatives of First United Church; the Community of Congregations; Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association (OPALGA); the Oak Park NAACP; Ascension Catholic Church; West Suburban Temple; Metro-West Suburban Peace Coalition; the Oak Park Village Community Relations Commission; Tri-Village PADS; Oak Park Club, Communist Party USA; Oak Park Friends of the People's Weekly World; the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers); Baha'i Community; Fellowship Christian Church; Village of Oak Park and U. S. Congressman Danny Davis.

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