Chapel Hill responds with prayer vigil to Charlottesville violence

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Chapel Hill responds with prayer vigil to Charlottesville violence

Members of United Church of Chapel Hill met Thursday evening to hold a prayer vigil for the victims of the violence in Charlottesville last weekend.

The church sits 180 miles away from the site of the attack, but members say it's close enough to feel a moral responsibility to respond with messages of love to the victims and members of Sojourners United Church in Charlottesville, a Jewish synagogue in the area, and Rev. Traci Blackmon, the executive minister of justice and witness ministries for the United Church of Christ.

"We can practice listening before we speak," said Rev. Susan Steinberg, who pastors United Church of Chapel Hill, referring to how both sides can move forward during the nation's time of racial divide. "I think that will get us a long way to a mutual understanding."

Among the 50-plus attendees was 9-year-old Baxter Henderson. He came to the vigil with his mother, Katherine, and his younger brother. The family stayed after the vigil to make handwritten love notes. Baxter said he wants the people in Charlottesville to know, "They're not alone. We can do this together. They don't have to feel like they're alone fighting the cause by themselves."

Following the Charlottesville attack, several people in Durham illegally tore down a confederate statue Monday leading to several arrests. Thursday morning, dozens of people showed up at the Durham County Detention Center asking to be arrested in the incident to show solidarity with those who did it.

"I think that is beautiful," Katherine said speaking of the crowd trying to turn themselves into law enforcement.

Steinberg said she understands why community members tore down the statue and can sympathize with them. However, as clergy, she prefers those hurting to go through the proper channels to see the monument removed.

Throughout the vigil, members of the congregation sang songs and lit candles in solidarity. Reflecting on the events of the weekend was felt by one of the youngest attendees in the room. "I was really sad," Baxter said. "Because I don't think anyone should die standing up for what they believe in."

Even at 9 years old, he's fully aware of this moment in time. "What happened in Charlottesville was bad, but you can forgive the people who did it," Baxter said. "...It doesn't mean they're a bad person just because they did a bad thing."

United Church of Chapel Hill plans to write more notes of love before sending them to their list of recipients.
Related Topics:
politicsconfederate monumentChapel HillOrange County
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