Staff members at Nassau Presbyterian Church were surprised to arrive at the church Monday morning to find that the large banner on the front lawn “Refugees Are Welcome Here” was stolen overnight.
“It was a shock to us,” said the Rev. David Davis, senior pastor of the church.
In order to remove the banner, a crossbar had to be ripped off of two metal pipes. The banner was located on the church’s property.
“They really had to work at it to remove it,” he said.
The church has filed a report with the Princeton Police Department.
For many years the church has hung banners on its front lawn promoting Christmas events, Vacation Bible School, and other events. Several years ago the church also displayed a “Torture is a Moral Issue” banner.
“All these years, we never had anyone take a banner down before,” Davis said.
The church, in Partnership with Princeton Theological Seminary, has offered to host a refugee family from Syria through Church World Service.
Numerous verses in the Bible emphasize welcoming the stranger. The refugee resettlement efforts are one way the church members live out their faith.
Nassau Presbyterian Church has been resettling refugees in the Princeton community for more than 50 years, including families from Cuba, Cambodia, Vietnam , Hungary, Bosnia, Sudan, Burma, and Iraq.
The church provides support like inviting refugees to stay in a church member’s home, and helping them build relationships and a support network. Nassau Presbyterian has partnered with organizations like the Jewish Center of Princeton. Individuals from outside the congregation have assisted with language education, local businesses have provided employment opportunities, Princeton Theological Seminary has provided temporary housing, and a local nonprofit organization has provided permanent housing.
A Syrian family still has not been identified yet, Davis said.
“We’re ready and willing to host a family if we are given two days notice, or two weeks notice,” he said.