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Faith Leaders Gather as 'Unite the Right' Organizers Plan Another Charlottesville Rally 

12-02-2017
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Four months after violence broke out on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia during a Unite the Right rally, there's a different scene. Protests have been replaced by prayer.  

Faith leaders from all across the country marched through the streets, past the Robert E Lee statue and past the scene of Heather Heyer's death. 

"Houston got hit by a real hurricane, we kind of got hit by a political one, a spiritual one, "said Dr. Mark Beliles, co-chair of Healing4Charlottesville
He says the path to healing begins with humility. 

 "It's not to blame anyone else but just to humble ourselves before God. We believe out of that solutions can come, healing can come," he explained.  

Faith leaders like Will Ford and Matt Lockett joined the march. They say their unique story is an example of how a conversation can lead to tearing down racial barriers.  

"I had this dream in 2004 about Martin Luther King that led me to do a prayer gathering the following year, on Martin Luther King celebration day at the Lincoln Memorial," Ford explained. 

That prayer gathering included a speech about Ford's slave ancestors and a kettle used to muffle their prayers as they called out to God. Lockett was there for the speech. 

"I heard the story about the kettle and thought this is an amazing story. But then Will had shared a detail about it. This kettle, which is a memorial stone about the prayers of the past, had been handed down through the generations and it was handed down through a Lockett family," Lockett said. 

That speech led to a deep friendship and the discovery ford's ancestors worked the plantation owned by Lockett's family.

"As Dr. Martin Luther King said,' I have a dream that someday the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners would sit down at together at the table of brotherhood," said Ford with a smile.

An independent review found state and local police partially at fault for the chaos that took place in August. 

After interviewing more than 100 people and reviewing a half-million documents that independent firm found there were was a break- down in communication.

Many officers were unsure what their instructions were that day or told to stand down in the face of confrontation. They also say there was one officer on duty at the scene that would lead to Heyer's death. 

That officer asked for assistance when she saw the crowds. Instead of receiving backup, she was relieved of her post.  No one was sent to replace her. 

Meanwhile, the organizer of the last Unite the Right rally has petitioned the city for a permit to hold another rally.  

As CBN News showed you in August, clergy in the area was praying and meeting before the last rally. So what makes this prayer gathering any different? 
 
"To a great degree I would say the majority white evangelical church is not a part of that, has not been engaged in that. It tends to be more of the mainline, non-denominational and liberal kinds of churches and other religious groups," Beliles explained.

He says this time around in order to see a united Charlottesville, we must first see a united church. 

"How can we awaken the entire body of Christ? How can we mobilize everyone? Maybe we can't all agree on how we worship and our spiritual beliefs. There are genuine differences that keep us apart on that level, we're not asking people to give up those beliefs," Beliles said. 

"But for the good of our city we believe as human beings we can restore a respectfulness in our community for all people," he continued. 

Beliles believes there's strength in numbers and in the unity that can prevent the next tragedy.   

Watch video of the Healing4Charlottesville prayer walk below.

 

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