1000 Clergy and Faith Leaders urged to come to Charlottesville for August 12
Dr. Cornel West and Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon among national leaders coming to support Congregate C’ville plans to confront white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally // Hundreds of leaders and people of faith from around the country expected to come.
Charlottesville, VA, July 31, 2017 – Congregate C’ville has issued a call for 1000 clergy and faith leaders to travel to Charlottesville August 11-13. Local clergy and faith leaders are planning trainings, interfaith services and opportunities for visible prayerful presence throughout the weekend. Together, we can confront the rising threat posed by these white supremacist groups in Charlottesville and across the country.
Congregate C’ville is an organizing mechanism for equipping faith leaders and those who would follow them to show up in pursuit of justice. Today, Congregate is announcing that faith leaders across the country are responding with urgency to show their moral outrage.
Dr. Cornel West says, "I am coming to Charlottesville to stand against White Supremacy and bear witness to love and justice.”
Dr. Cornel West, Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon, Lisa Sharon Harper, Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, Brian McLaren and more have already responded to the call. They and many others are committing to join Congregate’s efforts in Charlottesville to confront the rise of white nationalist political power and refuse to let Charlottesville be used as a platform towards those ends. We will stand in solidarity against the waves of racist, sexist, and homophobic harassment and violence white supremacist ideologies are manifesting nationwide.
Brittany Caine-Conley, Lead Organizer for Congregate C’ville says: “White supremacy is a structure of evil. On August 12th, overtly racist, white nationalists want to use Charlottesville as a springboard for their evil ideology. To this overt display of white nationalism, and to the less visible systemic foundations of white supremacy, we say no! We heed God’s call to be makers of peace and doers of justice. We will confront white supremacy and counteract evil with a liberating love.”
The open letter from Congregate states: “This is a call for partnership in direct, nonviolent action on a crucial day for our city, and in a critical moment for our country…We need your help and prayerful presence - we don’t have the numbers to stand up to this on our own.”
Charlottesville and the surrounding area, renowned for its natural beauty, history, and leading public University, has recently become a hotspot for national white supremacist organizations and demonstrations. The City Council recently voted (3-2) to move Confederate monuments from our prominent public parks, sparking increasingly explicit and violent expressions of white supremacy in the community.
On August 12, hundreds of white supremacists from around the country will rally with white nationalist leaders for hours in Charlottesville’s most prominent public park. From information that these groups are presenting and sharing online, and based on the militarized police presence brought to bear during a recent KKK rally in Charlottesville, the risk of violence taking place is real. Faith leaders plan to act nonviolently, to confront and denounce the violent ideology the white supremacists espouse.
Added Caine-Conley, “The very presence of white nationalists is violent. Their evil ideology enacts violence against black and brown bodies. We, as people of faith, must organize to dismantle white supremacy in all of its forms.”
The Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries for the United Church of Christ, says, "I am coming to Charlottesville at the invitation of Congregate because the sin of White Supremacy is a national problem that plagues the soul of our nation."
“We know that God’s love is for all, and that God is urgently concerned with the well-being of the marginalized and oppressed,” said Rev. Seth Wispelwey, Consulting Organizer of Congregate and Directing Minister of Restoration Village Arts. “The virulent racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and homophobia of the Alt-Right threatens and seeks to degrade the humanity of too many of our human siblings here in Charlottesville and throughout the United States. God is on their side in this, and it is our call as leaders of faith to advocate with and for them.”
A community interfaith service with music and sharing and preaching from local leaders and Rev. Dr. Blackmon and Dr. West will take place at St. Paul’s Memorial Church near the University of Virginia at 8pm on August 11.
Local clergy and faith leaders from around the country will continue worshipping on the morning of August 12 in advance of the planned white supremacist rally.