Local pastors and leaders, plan Prayer Walks and a Holy Convocation, to promote racial healing, and repentance, in Charlottesville, Va.
By Bill Bray
Campus Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Local Christian leaders met in Charlottesville on Nov. 29 to finalize plans for a Prayer Walk and Holy Convocation on Dec. 2 in this racially troubled campus community at the University of Virginia.
Calling for a day of “prayer and repentance” on the eve of Advent Sunday, Dec. 2, the event aims to bring healing after rioting here left three dead and 19 injured last August. The Day of Prayer and Repentance is called “Healing4Charlottesville” and will begin with a Pastor’s Prayer Breakfast at 9:30 a.m. followed by two public events.
The Healing for Charlottesville Day of Prayer Walk will start off at the chapel on the grounds of University and 9 other points around the city’s downtown mall. Many small groups of walkers will start at various churches and parking lots and gradually merge at the County Office Building.
From that point they will walk the length of the Downtown Mall and gather at the Pavilion for a 90-minute program.
“The Church of Jesus Christ should transcend and transform politics,” says chairman Mark Beliles of the Grace Covenant Church and president of the America Transformation Company, “but on this day, we plan to gather to ask forgiveness of God and one another.”
The Reverends Beliles and Al Edwards – along with about 15 other clergy from white, African American and Korean churches – organized the walk. Pastor Edwards, from the predominately black Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, also organized the Charlottesville Clergy Collective. It is the leading inter-faith group that includes Jewish and Muslim groups.
Most of the pastors involved in the Day of Prayer were at the deadly riots on the weekend of August 12 that have since made the city of Charlottesville a symbol of racial hatred. At that time, Antifa and Klu Klux Klan extremists rioted over the removal of Confederate war statues in the downtown parks.
Beliles is no rabble rouser and is asking those who participate to “not speak or carry signs that in any way focus blame on anyone but ourselves.
“The majority white churches especially need to do this,” he said, as he outlined plans for inviting visiting speakers to promote reconciliation and repentance.
“We want to end this year with a holy season of peace and love, and that’s what is bringing us together in this way.”
Photo: A memorial to Charlottesville victim, Heather Heyer.