The Diocese of Virginia is moving the location of its second annual Intercultural Summit closer to the site of a planned neo-Confederate rally in Richmond.
On the diocesan website, the description of the second annual Summit states that, “The events of Charlottesville have highlighted the racial divide in our Country, our State and even our Church.” The recent events in Charlottesville also provided the reason for the change of location. Originally scheduled to take place this Saturday in Herndon, Va, the event will now be held in Richmond, where an out-of-state neo-Confederate group plans to hold a rally at a monument to Robert E. Lee on the same date.
In an email announcement, the diocesan leadership explained:
Because of a neo-Confederate rally planned for the same day at the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, diocesan leadership felt it was important to be in Richmond should the need arise to provide pastoral support or a peaceful presence at the rally.
A group called CSA II: The New Confederate States of America is billing the event as the “Protect the General Robert E. Lee Monument Rally” and says on its Facebook page that organizers will not allow racist groups to participate.
“We remain hopeful that the rally will not be besieged by hate groups or violence, but we feel that a relevant church must always be prepared to go wherever God’s people are hurting,” said the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston, Bishop of Virginia. “Events like these make our Intercultural Summit all the more timely, relevant and needed.”
A local NBC station reports that police and residents are concerned that the rally will attract trouble.
Richmond Police are gearing up for what could be a chaotic weekend on Monument Avenue. A group from Tennessee that calls itself the “New Confederate State of America” says the rally to protect the Robert E Lee monument is still on.
The event was updated recently to confirm it’s not canceled, even though a permit wasn’t obtained. Richmond Police have been preparing for this since the chaos in Charlottesville and will provide updates this week. …
The Virginia Flaggers filed a permit to hold a rally at the Lee Monument this coming Saturday but withdrew the request because of how violent the rally in Charlottesville became. Now, a group from Tennessee is planning a rally, regardless of city permission from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. this Saturday. …
The Monument Avenue Commission is tasked with listening to public input about the monuments and advise the city what to do about them. The Commission had a meeting scheduled for this Wednesday but postponed it due to a public safety concern.
The diocese’s Intercultural Summit will take place at St Mark’s Church in Richmond from 11:30-3, and plans are in process for an interfaith prayer meeting in advance of the event. The notice from the Diocese of Virginia is here.
A prayer service will be held Friday evening at St. Paul’s in downtown Richmond. Susan Goff, Bishop Suffragan writes,
As a part of our continued commitment to standing against hatred, violence and racism, people of faith from across the area will gather for prayer on the eve of the rally at St. Paul’s Church in downtown Richmond. We invite people from all walks of life to gather with us as we seek to follow God’s way of radical love and inclusion….
St. Mark’s is one mile west of Lee Monument; St. Paul’s is two miles east.