The bishops of the Diocese of Virginia have released a statement calling clergy to protest a rally being held in Charlottesville on Saturday. The rally is called “Unite the Right” and is in response to the city’s removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee and renaming of Lee Park to Emancipation Park. The full statement is below:
To the Clergy in the Diocese of Virginia
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As racially motivated violence continues to plague our country, we Bishops of the Diocese of Virginia stand together with the Charlottesville Clergy Collective (CCC), working in opposition to the so-called “Unite the Right” rally, an event being supported by numerous white supremacist organizations. Such groups have now twice targeted Charlottesville, citing the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee and change the name of Lee Park to Emancipation Park.
We are inviting all Episcopal clergy in the Diocese of Virginia to come to Charlottesville on Saturday, August 12, 2017, joining with other clergy and leaders from across the United States. Together we will stand in non-confrontational and prayerful opposition to the rally, which is scheduled to begin at noon in Emancipation Park (click here for event logistics, details and other information). For the purposes of crowd reduction and public safety, the CCC has requested that this invitation be extended to clergy only. City authorities have expressed similar concerns.
Our purpose will be to bear visible witness to the entirety of the beloved community in which people of all races are equal.
For those who are able to arrive in Charlottesville in the early morning on that day, we will gather at 7:30 a.m. in front of the Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center (233 4th St NW, Charlottesville, VA 22903). We will open the morning with prayer and then begin the march, which is organized by the CCC. If you cannot arrive in time for the beginning of the march, we hope you will join us either en route or simply come directly to First United Methodist Church (FUMC), across from Emancipation Park, where the march concludes and where the clergy will remain throughout the rally.
To make the most visible witness, clergy have been asked to wear clerical street clothes or a cassock (a stole is optional). Please plan to take part in the event from 7:30 a.m. through at least 1:00 p.m. FUMC will be available to marchers for prayer, facilities, water and other conveniences until the rally concludes at 5:00 p.m.
Your voice is needed! As people who have been reconciled to God through Christ, we have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). In our judgment, therefore, the Church cannot remain silent in the face of those who seek to foment division.
The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff
The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick