Back in December 2016, NPR ran a story on this popular sign. Perhaps you have one in your neighborhood. Or maybe you have one on your lawn.
The words first appeared on a black and white sign outside the Immanuel Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It looked like this:
Pastor Matthew Bucher was definitely not setting out to start a nationwide phenomenon. His sign went up last year after he was “pretty disappointed” with the rhetoric of the primary debates, especially as directed toward people who weren’t born in the U.S.
“The church is located in the northeast part of Harrisonburg, which has a long tradition of being the African-American part of the city,” he says. “But in the past 20 years it’s also become home to a lot of people from Central America, the Middle East and around the world.”
“That’s why we did it in three languages — English, Arabic and Spanish,” he explains. “Because those are the three most common languages spoken in our neighborhood.”
Spanish-speaking church members wrote one translation. Bucher wrote the other with the help of friends in Egypt, where he spent time working with the Mennonite Central Committee. A member of the congregation painted their sign by hand. “It was a collaborative effort,” Bucher says.
A few months later, a group of local Mennonite pastors was trying to find a way to “say something positive,” says Nick Meyer, a pastor at Early Church in Harrisonburg.
So they decided to take the sign’s message and spread it more broadly. A friend of Meyer’s, Alex Gore, turned the trilingual message into a simple, colorful yard sign, and they printed up 200. The pastors distributed them, encouraging church members to pair the sign with concrete acts of outreach to their neighbors.
Read the rest here.
I should also add that Pastor Matt Bucher is a 2006 graduate of Messiah College. And to make this story even better, he was a HISTORY MAJOR. I remember Matt well and we have stayed in touch over the years, although I had no idea he had created this sign until one of his classmates recently told me about this NPR story during our history department homecoming alumni reception last week.
Some of you may also remember that Matt was featured in our “So What Can You Do With a History Major” series. And here’s another fun fact: Matt was in the same graduating history class as The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling.