Was Morristown church vandalism a bias incident? Morris prosecutor is investigating, and seeks public’s help

Broken sign outside Morristown's Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, May 21, 2023. Photo by Kevin Coughlin


The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday said it’s conducting “an active and ongoing investigation” with Morristown police to determine if weekend vandalism of a welcome sign at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer was “an act of bias conduct.”

As first reported here, the sign — which welcomes people of all genders, races and political persuasions — was broken in two after the church erected a series of flags with Gay Pride colors on Friday evening.

The Rt. Rev. Bonnie Perry, Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan, left, and the Rev. Cynthia Black, rector of Morristown’s Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, both pioneering gay clerics, at Bishop John Shelby Spong’s funeral in 2021. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“It is unfortunate that someone would damage the sign of a church whose congregation has done so much for this community. Our office intends to fully investigate whether or not this was an act of bias conduct,” Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll said in a statement, after his office met with Redeemer’s rector, the Rev. Cynthia Black, and Morristown Police Chief Darnell Richardson.

“Law enforcement wants to send the strong message that we are taking this matter seriously, and that bias based conduct and vandalism will not be tolerated,” Carroll said.

Authorities are asking anyone with information to call the Prosecutor’s Office at 973-285-6200 or Morristown police at 973-538-2200.

Black said she had a good meeting with law enforcement.

“Chief Richardson will be coming to talk to the congregation on Sunday. They have increased patrols–including quality of life patrols,” she said. Police caught somebody urinating on the property on Friday night, according to the minister.

Black said the damage to the high-density urethane sign was discovered on Saturday morning, within 12 hours of the flags going up. She said it will cost $15,050 to replace the sign. The church is accepting donations to cover its $2,500 insurance deductible.

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