Across the world there has been too much hate written across walls. First Presbyterian Church of Britton, SD decided it was time to write love on their own walls. Through a micro-grant from South Dakota Faith in Public Life, the church has installed three large banners on their front entrance. The banners recognize Jesus’ commandment to love and proclaim to their neighbors “We Choose Love.” To bless and celebrate these new banners, the congregation had a “Let’s Be Neighbors Sunday” celebration on Sunday September 10th, 2017.
The banners were designed by HH Designs and were installed by Mark Wismer, a church member. The idea was inspired by the “Let’s Be Neighbors” project (letsbeneighbors.org), a grassroots program that took hold after the 2016 election to bring people together. Former co-pastors Bala and Cheryl Khyllep carefully chose the wording for these banners to show the scriptural mandate to love, to emphasize that love is a choice we make everyday in big and small ways, and to reflect the diversity of our small rural town.
Rev. Bala Khyllep, former co-pastor of First Presbyterian tells, “When we started this project in late April we had no idea how timely these words would be. The events of Charlottesville and the rise of hate groups makes this project so important. It’s not enough to ignore hate, we have to show that most Americans when given the chance will choose love.”
The “Let’s Be Neighbors Sunday” was a well-attended Sunday with 89 in attendance. Melanie Jones sang a special solo, the children read the storybook Janine from the Britton Public Library and were reminded it’s okay to be different, and Rev. Cheryl Lynn Khyllep preached. In Rev. Khyllep’s sermon she posed the question, “Can we really do what these banners call us to do? Can we really show up for our community?” Rev. Cheryl Khyllep acknowledges that loving those in our community can be difficult but concluded, “It is not a matter of if we can do this, we have to love those around us because there are far too many people in our community that don’t know they are loved or have just forgotten.”
First Presbyterian Church of Britton, SD sincerely hopes that these banners mark this congregation as loving, and inspire its members to love and support the marginalized voices in our community.