Clergy convene in Charlottesville, protesting Alt-Right rally

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On Friday night, ahead of tonight’s planned rally, members of the alt-right and white supremacist groups marched through the streets of Charlottesville, VA carrying torches and chanting slogans steeped in the history of bigotry. “Blood and soil,” a Nazi ideology of so-called purity based on ethnicity and national origin, “Jews shall not replace us,” and “white lives matter” were among their rallying cries. They are protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Some counter-protesters clashed with the white supremacists near a statue of Thomas Jefferson, but many remained in a peaceful prayer vigil at St. Paul’s Memorial Episcopal Church. Clergy from many different faiths and from across the nation were present, answering a call from the bishops of the Diocese of Virginia. For some time, the white supremacists surrounded the church, but they were eventually disbanded by police for unlawful assembly. Traci Blackmon, a United Church of Christ minister tweeted that the police weren’t letting people inside the church go out for their own safety.

Rev. Winnie Varghese asked those gathered in the church to invoke in prayer “those upon whose shoulders you stand today, those whose footsteps you follow.” “Let’s take that Love to the streets,” she said in the conclusion of her prayer. Dr. Cornel West spoke this morning at First Baptist Church, saying, this would be the “biggest gathering of a hate-driven right wing in the history of this country in the last 30 to 35 years.” He cited Virginia as having “a long history of racism and fighting racism.”

Video from Sojourners of silent marchers in Charlottesville

The Diocese of Virginia added that all clergy are currently safe, and said they would continue to bring updates to their Facebook page.

Charlottesville is a majority progressive city, and the mayor, Mike Signer, said in a Facebook post that he was “beyond disgusted” with this display “cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance” on the part of the alt-right protesters. Many felt that the torches were reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan, and Rev. Seth Wispelwey of the local United Church of Christ said “White supremacists rallying in our town is an act of violence.”

In her Final Charge during last night’s prayer service, Lisa Sharon Harper said,

“Oh, God, cut darkness tomorrow, Lord!
Hover over us tomorrow, Lord!
Be with us like you were with the priests who exited the exile!
Blow your holy spirit over us, holy God!
And remind us of your faithfulness to our ancestors!
Walk with us Lord and let.there.be.light!

Amen.”

Saturday afternoon the bishops and clergy gathered at Trinity Episcopal:

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Fr. Loyde Hartley
Guest
Fr. Loyde Hartley

I'm proud to be an Episcopalian. Churches everywhere need to do exactly what the chuches in Charlottesville have done, Thank you.

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Helen Kromm
Guest
Helen Kromm

Today is a day where I can reflect with pride at the stand and the actions our clergy took. It's difficult to put in to words how I feel about their actions other than to offer a sense of gratitude and admiration.

Today was a dark day for all of us, and it was made darker by the statement offered by our President. While our clergy were in harms way, our President was telling us that both sides must tone this down and that we are all Americans. An American city was awash in Swatikas, Nazi flags, and armed men wearing T Shirts with racist sayings and Hitler quotes, and our President tells us this is a "side".

As you might expect, nowhere was the speech greeted with more appreciation than among the ranks of the Nazis themselves. The "Daily Stormer", which played a significant role in both the planning and execution of this event ran a live feed. At 3:46 PM in the live feed, they make this observation:

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"Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.

He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate… on both sides!

So he implied the antifa are haters.

There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.

He said he loves us all.

Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him.

No condemnation at all.

When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room.

Really, really good.

God bless him."
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The page is so vile that I can't post a link. If you are inclined, just Google "Daily Stormer".

We have no presidential leadership in the face of this evil. Thank God for our clergy.

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Lawrence Graham
Guest
Lawrence Graham

Reports at 5:00 EDT Saturday say 19 injured and one dead. "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing." Thanks be to God for the witness of our Church in the midst of this horror.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

I'm so glad that our clergy are there. I think we all need to rally.

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Eric Bonetti
Member

A car just struck group of counterprotestors. Truly a sad day, in so many ways

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