Oak Park church with Lent ‘fasting from whiteness’ theme going online only after threats

Pastor John Edgerton said Monday he’s waiting to hear from law enforcement about security issues at the church before returning to in-person services.

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Pastor John Edgerton stands inside the sanctuary of the First United Church of Oak Park, located at 848 Lake Street, Friday, April 8, 2022, in Oak Park, Ill.

The Rev. John Edgerton said First United Church of Oak Park will hold services online only until authorities assess threats made against him and the church.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The Oak Park church that had been promoting Lent with a “fasting from whiteness” theme is to hold church services only online — for now — because of threats, the pastor said Monday.

“Following threats made against the church, their services are online until local and federal enforcement complete their assessment of those threats,” John Edgerton, First United Church of Oak Park’s pastor, wrote in a text to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Edgerton said some threats have been made “against my person.”

The fasting theme, posted on a sign on the church’s front lawn, has generated headlines around the world, with some calling it “wokeness gone mad” and reverse racism.

But Edgerton, who came up with the slogan, said his church played music by nonwhite composers during Lent as a way to allow “other perspectives to have space.” It doesn’t mean, he said, that he is banishing the works of the European greats.

“You don’t fast from things that are despicable. ... You don’t fast from things that are ugly,” he told the Sun-Times last week. “You fast from those things that do tug at your heart.”

Edgerton said the church’s Palm Sunday service, which was online only, drew about twice the number of typical Sunday viewers.

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