Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville has joined with other churches in the area to publicly denounce racism and pray for healing and restoration in the city that was the site of racist protests, counter-protests, and violence on August 12.
White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and members of the Klu Klux Klan held a rally that day to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park. Counter-protesters gathered to oppose the racist positions such groups have consistently taken.
Tensions mounted ahead of Saturday’s rally, and Trinity’s session issued a statement to its congregation denouncing racism as sin and encouraging members to engage the issues from a posture of humility and repentance.
The statement read, in part, “We encourage you to move into the events of this weekend not with the eyes of partisanship but with the eyes of grace and humility as we weep over and confess our sins of prejudice and pursue the glory of the kingdom of God.”
The session also invited members to join in an inter-denominational, interracial prayer meeting held at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church at 2 p.m. on August 12. Tim Jones, director of community and care at Trinity, said that as the prayer service began attendees learned about a car plowing into a crowd of counter-protesters.
“It was a powerful time of prayer, crying out for peace, justice, and the Spirit’s movement,” he said.
Twenty counter-protesters were wounded and one, Heather Heyer, was killed by the car.
Jones said the violence prompted Trinity’s leadership to change the Sunday morning liturgy and sermon to include times of lament and praying for the city. They prayed for the victims of the attacks, he said, for African-American brothers and sisters in the city, and for the perpetrators of violence and hate.
On August 20, Trinity again joined with churches of many denominations and races for a candlelight service at the sight of the murder. The service was a time to pray, hear Scripture, and sing songs of lament and hope.
“We recognize that the events of [August 12] were not ‘one off’ events, but part of an ongoing struggle in our city and country that is only intensifying,” he said. “Well after the national attention leaves Charlottesville, we will continue to grieve, hope, and partner in the gospel, seeking the justice and peace of our city.”