La Crescenta church replaces stolen diversity flags

When flags representing Mexico, South Korea, eco-justice and gays and lesbians were stolen from St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church — leaving just the American flag standing — the message was conspicuous and unwanted.

So on Sunday, as community leaders gathered to reinstall the flags after weeks of fundraising, the message to the perpetrators was just as clear: “You brought the community back together again,” one said.

Speaking to the crowd during the dedication on Sunday, church Vicar Bryan Jones said his congregation offered up donations to replace the flags the day after the flags were stolen on May 19.

“They left one flag standing and that was an American flag,” Jones said. “They were making some sort of statement about what kind of community we should be.”

But Arick Gevorkian — manager of the La Crescenta Armenian Community and Youth Center — told the crowd that the theft ended up having the opposite effect.

Addressing the unknown thief, Gevorkian said, “You did a good thing. You brought the community back together again.”

In a community where kids from various backgrounds attend school together and residents of different stripes pray together and shop at the same stores, the message inherent in the flag thefts was an unwelcome one, he added.

“You cannot dictate how this community is going to be run,” Gevorkian said.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) also touched on embracing diversity as a “nation of immigrants.”

“I am no religious scholar, and I would not pretend to be, but it seems to me inherent in all the great faiths that we are all one under God,” he said.

Among those presenting the replacement flags were Gevorkian; Young Saeok Suh, a board member of the Korean American Federation of North Los Angeles and member of the Crescenta Valley Town Council; Nancy Guillen of the Glendale Latino Assn.; and Eric Gutierrez of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.

Suh acknowledged the church’s “dedication and determination to unite our community,” adding that as citizens of the U.S., we’re all collectively “responsible for good stewardship, peace and unity.”

The flags will join the 10 flags that are currently in the front lawn of the church. Nine of them were paid for by the church through the congregation’s donations after the original four went missing.

-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

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