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Oak Park church generating attention for Lent ‘fasting from whiteness’ signs

First United Church of Oak Park is seen Thursday after “Fasting from Whiteness” lawn signs had been removed. The signs generated controversy; the pastor said the church is on an anti-racism journey and is playing African-American inspired music during Lent.

A church in Oak Park is drawing attention after controversy erupted last week over a phrase it used related to Lenten observances.

The First United Church of Oak Park, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA and United Church of Christ, on Thursday issued a news release explaining its use of the term “fasting from whiteness” during the 40-day period of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday.


The phrase had appeared on lawn signs outside the church since March 2 and only last week came under the national and international spotlight when television crews began reporting that First United had banned music written by white composers.

Social media reaction to the church’s “fasting from whiteness” theme has been a mixture of supportive messages and criticisms. Some commenters on an Oak Park Facebook group said they liked the church’s idea of introducing music by composers of color, but felt “fasting from whiteness” was the wrong phrase to use.