Do Justice
Welcome to Do Justice, a semi-monthly newsletter of the Virginia Synod, lifting up God’s call and command that we, God’s people, do justice. You will find helpful info about justice ministries in congregations, around Virginia, and through the ELCA. If you have stories of justice to share from your congregation, please share those with me at bayerderrick@vasynod.org so I can share them with others in the synod!

The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick
Assistant to the Bishop
We share this special edition of Do Justice, with commemorations and vigils around Virginia following the terror attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15.

A prayer attributed to Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
Faith in Action Community Interfaith Vigil
By Diane Bayer, Minister of Christian Formation at Muhlenberg Lutheran, Harrisonburg
Faith in Action is an interfaith group in Harrisonburg of which Muhlenberg Lutheran is a covenant congregation. Faith in Action held a Vigil at the Islamic Center of the Shenandoah in Harrisonburg on Friday March 22. Several Members of Muhlenberg joined others in our community in support of our Muslim brother and sister after the recent shootings in New Zealand. A leader of the mosque welcomed everyone and thanked all for their support by walking hand in hand with our Muslim neighbors. In his speech he said, “As we know each other’s pain, we know each other’s hearts.”

The Vice Mayor of Harrisonburg reminded us that we need to stand together united in caring for all of our community. Mr. Romero shared these words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

A member of Temple Beth El reminded everyone that we must never forget that we stand with all victims of hatred, prejudice and white supremacy. She said we stand together as we remember our Jewish brothers and sisters killed in a Temple in Pittsburgh, our African American brothers and sisters killed in a church in South Carolina and our Muslim brothers and sisters killed in this most recent shooting in New Zealand.

A local Pastor called us all to remember that our Muslim brothers and sisters are our neighbors and we walk together in community, welcoming all sharing and caring for one another!
A representative from our city school system spoke on behalf of all working in our school system. He made the following 4 points:

1. We love you and your children
2. You belong here as members of our community
3. We stand with you in your grief
4. We want to join hands to be sure your children each feel welcome and safe

A young Muslim woman told us that the mosque is a covenant member of Faith in Action. She said that one of Faith in Action’s strengths is that it is rooted in justice and that all the covenant congregations stand together as they worship our Creator.

The Vigil was closed with these words from murdered Catholic priest Oscar Romero, “for all to fight our fears of that which we don’t know or understand and to find our compassion and to greet each other as brothers and sisters.
Islamophobia Condemned at Memorial
Held at Grace Evangelical Lutheran
Submitted by The Rev. Jonathan M. Boynton, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Winchester
Hussein Rashwan wept as Rabbi Scott Sperling hugged him and whispered words of consolation on Thursday night.

The moment of solidarity came after a two-hour multi-denominational memorial at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church on Boscawen Street to the 50 victims of the March 15 massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Speakers denounced the rise of white supremacist bigotry and violence that has targeted blacks, gays, immigrants, Jews, Latinos and Muslims in Europe and the U.S.
Standing Together in Mourning and Solidarity Event
By The Rev. Dennis A. Andersen, member, First English Lutheran, Richmond
More than four hundred people attended the March 17th gathering at the Islamic Center of Virginia in North Chesterfield under the banner “Standing together in Mourning and Solidarity.” Representatives from many faith communities, law enforcement, and elected public officials were among those who brought greetings, condolences, prayers, and fervent messages of support and encouragement. Gathering on the slopes in front of the brick-clad center on a sunny but chilly late Sunday afternoon, speakers included Jewish, Sikh, Christian, and Muslim leaders.

Dr. M Imad Damaj of the Center’s Board of Trustees, welcomed us.“It is sad that we have to come together again to reaffirm our humanity, to declare again and again our commitment to live together … it seems that only yesterday that we gathered together at the Jewish Community Center to honor the members of the synagogue in Pittsburgh who were also gunned down while they were peacefully praying to God ... We are here to grow stronger together – to push hate with love.”
Rabbi Michael Knopf of Temple Beth El in Richmond, one of the members of the “Standing Together” Steering Committee, spoke of peace, tears, helplessness, maintaining that “my faith affirms that in my tears, I keep good company. According to Jewish tradition, God is perpetually in tears due to the brokenness of our world.” But he added “If all of us here tonight commit ourselves to advancing unrestrained love in the face of a world torn asunder by hate, it might just save us. We might yet be able to put the broken pieces of this world back together and build of this world a sanctuary fit for the indwelling of a God of compassion, justice, and peace.”

Following these and many other offerings, the gathering concluded with a litany led by members of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities and gathered clergy and faith representatives.

Press releases and resource materials can be found at: inclusiveva.org/about-vcic-2/news
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