Local Minister Hopes Signs Help ‘Tell a Better Story’ About B-town

Mihee Kim-Kort next to one of the signs she helped get into yards around Bloomington. Photo by Rodney Margison

BY JULIE GRAY

It’s too early for crocuses, but you may notice green, blue, and orange signs springing up in yards around town that read, in Arabic, Spanish, and English: “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.”

The signs are part of a national movement that started last year when a Mennonite church in Harrisonburg, Virginia, posted a hand-lettered, black-and-white sign bearing that message. The church eventually spiffed up the design and posted a PDF online for anyone to download. Today the signs can be found from North Carolina to Canada. They appear in Bloomington thanks to Presbyterian minister Mihee Kim-Kort, 38, director of Presbyterian Collegiate Ministries at Indiana University.

Kim-Kort first saw the sign on Facebook. “I thought, ‘That looks great,’” she says. “Because there’s so much negativity and distrust these days, it’s radical to be able to foster openness, warmth,
and welcome.”

She got in touch with Btown Justice, a loose coalition of community activists, which spread the word through social media. When a local printer agreed to produce them at a discount, about 145 people quickly paid $12 each for a sign.

“I hope the signs combat anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, build-the-wall rhetoric,” says Kim-Kort. “I just want to tell a better story.”

The immigrant issue has been in the news locally since last fall, when Exodus Refugee Immigration announced it had recommended Bloomington as a host city for refugees. Although the resettlement plan has generally received widespread support, there have been some vocal opponents. The plan is currently on hold due to congressional funding cuts. Profits from the sale of the signs are being donated to Exodus.

For Kim-Kort, the desire to serve runs in the family. Both her father and father-in-law are ordained Presbyterian ministers who attended Princeton Theological Seminary. That’s where she met her husband, Andy Kort, senior pastor of Bloomington’s First Presbyterian Church, when they were
students. Perhaps the best description of Kim-Kort’s mission to serve, though, is found on her blog (miheekimkort.com), where she calls herself “Pastor. Mother. Writer. Itinerant. Hopemonger.”

For more information or to order a sign, visit Btown Justice on Facebook.    

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