Earlier this week, Lenora and I had the privilege of meeting with our interfaith partners on the Alachua County Faith Leaders Alliance (ACFLA). As you might imagine, the sole item on our agenda was our response to the upcoming event by white nationalist Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute, scheduled for next Thursday on the campus of the University of Florida. Knowing that this event is also a concern weighing on your minds, I wanted to share some important information with you.
First, all of Trinity's pastors are signatories on a statement drafted by members of the ACFLA, which you can read
. This statement is being issued to the local press and will be read aloud by members of the ACFLA on the steps of City Hall at 5:30pm on Monday, October 16th. Lenora and I will be participating, as would Steve and Catherine but they will be out of town. As a sign of our solidarity, we will all be wearing the cloth of our faith traditions. We are also inviting our congregations to join us, as a visible expression of our unity behind the belief that our community is a place of peace, hope, and love. I hope you will come and with your presence say, "Hate and violence have no place in the city of Gainesville."
With regard to the event on Thursday, President Fuchs, along with Campus Police, the Gainesville Police Department, and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, are urging "everyone to stay away from Mr. Spencer and his followers and the Phillips Center where he will speak and the media will be assembled." I know this seems contrary to our responsibility, as citizens and as followers of Jesus Christ, to speak out against hate, violence, and injustice. The frustrating truth is, as we've already seen in Charlottesville, counter protests are counterproductive and incite precisely the response Mr. Spencer and his ilk are seeking. The most productive thing we can do is stay away, thereby denying them the attention they so desperately crave. Trinity Chapel will be open from 2pm to 5pm as a sanctuary for prayer, candle lighting, and fellowship "rooted and grounded in love." Several of our brothers and sisters in the ACFLA are opening the doors of their houses of worship, as well.
This response by the ACFLA, and our neighbors here in Gainesville, relates well to this Sunday's message, "All Together Now" - the next in our series, "theSkim: theBiblein6weeks." I'm looking forward to gathering with you for worship this week.
Peace, hope, and love,
PS - Our Director of Student Ministries, JJ Joseph, will be at UMYF this Sunday evening, to visit and share with students and parents about his leave of absence. I'm looking forward to seeing you there, too!