Happy (Easter) ending following ‘fasting from whiteness’ caller threat

Oak Park Pastor John Edgerton’s unusual theme for Lent has drawn publicity across the globe — not all of it favorable.

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Pastor John Edgerton of First United Church of Oak Park said Thursday that the in-person Easter Sunday service will proceed as planned, after police checked out a threat to the church. | Sun-Times file photo.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times, Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Last week, a caller left an F-word voicemail with First United Church of Oak Park in which he branded the pastor’s “Fasting from Whiteness” Lent theme as insanity.

The caller said he planned to show up at the next service in person — with some of his buddies.

In the interest of safety, Pastor John Edgerton decided — after talking to police — to cancel last weekend’s in-person Palm Sunday service, one of the church’s better attended.

God, as they say, works in mysterious ways.

On Thursday, a gift arrived at the church, which sits across from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple: A potted Easter lily with a blue bow.

The attached note read: “To the office staff: Sorry for the inappropriate voicemail last week. God bless.”

The man even signed his name, although Edgerton could have guessed who it was without the signature. The church’s voicemail system had identified and recorded the man’s name.

“This is good news. That is someone’s heart turning around, and we are grateful for that,” Edgerton said.

The Easter lily received by John Edgerton, pastor of First United Church of Oak Park.

The Easter lily received by John Edgerton, pastor of First United Church of Oak Park.


It’s been quite a week for the previously little-known pastor. He and his church decided on a theme that would exclude all music written by white composers for the 40 days of Lent, to allow space for other voices, he said. A sign on the front lawn of the church proclaimed: “Fasting from Whiteness.”

It drew praise from some but also ridicule, with some calling it “wokeness gone mad.” Pastor Edgerton’s Lent theme has generated headlines across the globe.

He said Thursday that police have spoken to the man who left the voicemail. The Chicago Sun-Times is not naming him because he has not been charged with a crime.

David Powers, a spokesman for the village of Oak Park, said police investigated the threat. “At this time, it appears there won’t be charges,” Powers said.

Edgerton said he isn’t quite sure how large a crowd to expect for this weekend’s Easter Sunday service. But there are plenty of seats in the sanctuary — 900. He said everyone is welcome to attend, including the man who left the F-word-threat on the church voicemail.

“We will have our doors flung wide open to celebrate the Resurrection Sunday,” he said.

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