Signs at Old Lyme church break rules

OLD LYME, Conn. (WTNH) — The printed program at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme shows its welcoming statement. It’s a message members wanted to make sure that even people who have never been in the church knew as well.

The sign now placed by the back door of the church lists the groups of people the church affirms and supports. It was originally placed in front of its meeting house along with an identical one last fall.

“We wanted the people most vulnerable among us to know there was a place for them here,” said Carleen Gerber, the church’s Senior Associate Minister.

old lyme church sign 4 Signs at Old Lyme church break rules
(Photo: Tina Detelj/WTNH)

The church has sponsored several refugee families, more recently from Syria and Puerto Rico, and provided sanctuary to a man facing deportation.

“In both the Old Testament scriptures and the New Testament scriptures, we are called to be a place of hospitality for the foreigner, to welcome the stranger,” said Gerber.

It has received both criticism and support as well as notice from the town’s Historic District Commission which was not concerned about its message but rather the signs themselves.

“The historic district has regulations that say temporary signs are not allowed beyond thirty days,” said Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

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The commission asked selectmen to consider this ongoing concern.

“I don’t believe it’s a selectman issue but I do believe it’s a moral issue for those of us serving in town,” said Reemsnyder.

old lyme church sign 3 Signs at Old Lyme church break rules
(Photo: Tina Detelj/WTNH)

Selectmen recommended the Historic District Commission review its policies.

“There are lots of signs,” said Gerber. “So the question might be how do they feel about all the signs.”

When asked to remove the signs, the church has complied but it has also displayed other signs as well.

“If it means signs come and go then signs come and go,” said Gerber.

The Historic District Commission meets Monday night and members could discuss its policies regarding signs at the church.

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