This past Saturday, August 12th, over a dozen Rostered Ministers of the Virginia Synod, Bishop Mauney, Bishop-elect Humphrey and his wife Barbra Humphrey joined in a peaceful march with Charlottesville clergy and religious leaders of Virginia ahead of the Unite the Right rally. The march was organized by the Charlottesville Clergy Collective with the goal to provide a positive witness in Charlottesville, and not to engage with those present for the Unite the Right Rally. The clergy present predominantly dressed in blue, gathered at 8 AM to march from Jefferson City Center School to McGuffey Park.
In McGuffey Park state and local government leaders, local pastors, and the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia all brought greetings to those gathered. members of UVA’s Black Student Alliance also joined the group and shared their thoughts on the rally occurring. Dr. A.D. Carson, UVA Professor of Hip-Hop and the Global South, He shared a poem he composed titled, “Good morning America.”
Following the gathering at the park, the gathered clergy continued to First United Methodist Church which was open as a “safe space” throughout the day – with first aid, water, food, prayer services, and support planned. There was peace and witness present this day in Charlottesville that ultimately and tragically in fell to fear and violence, leading to the deaths of Heather Heyer, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates and numerous injuries caused by clashes.
Last night, thousands more marched against racism and violence as students and faculty gathered in a candlelight vigil to “take back the Lawn” in an effort of healing for this college town following days of confrontation and tragedy. The evening was organized by a coalition of students and administrators, kept quiet until hours before for security reasons. There the sounds of laughter and songs like “I’m Gonna Let it Shine,” “We Shall Overcome” and “This Land is Your Land” carried the night as the UVA community came together to return peace their grounds.
We continue to pray for Charlottesville, for its community and congregations, for its authorities and first responders. We pray for the families who lost loved ones, and for those who were injured on the 12th. We pray for strength and witness to continue to reject the hatred and discrimination of white supremacy. As Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said, “White supremacy has no place in the kingdom of God, only the love and healing of the reign of the Prince of Peace.”