Locals come together in Granby, barring religious affiliation, for Charlottesville vigil (with video)
A little less than two weeks ago, the nation experienced moments of racism and brutality in Charlottesville, Va. But those instances of hate are being tempered by small acts and simple gestures from Americans across the nation, including a candlelight vigil held in Granby last week.
James Alex Fields, a 20-year-old white supremacist who was ostensibly in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, drove his car into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters Aug. 12 in Charlottesville. The act ended the life of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, caused injuries for 19 others, and resulted in Fields being charged with multiple felonies, including for second-degree murder.
Residents of Grand County came together last Thursday to raise their voices in song and prayer in opposition to the hatred displayed in Charlottesville with a candlelight vigil at Lord of the Valley Lutheran Church. The vigil featured about 70 citizens from various faiths and denominations led by several clergy members.
“The purpose of the vigil was to stand together, as a community, to give people a place to stand together,” the Rev. Paula Steinbacher said. “We want to be united in love, instead of divided by hate.”
The idea of the vigil sprang up the Sunday after the tragic events in Charlottesville. Congregants of Steinbacher’s church approached their pastor to talk about the events of the day before.
“They couldn’t believe we were dealing with this issue again,” Steinbacher said. “They wondered what they could do and how do deal with those feelings. It occurred to me we needed to make a visual public stand. To say what happened is not alright, and that we need to be one nation, not divided.”
Leading the proceedings were the Rev. Brian Bergum of Lord of the Valley Lutheran, the Rev. Mark Ricker of St. John’s Episcopal, and the Rev. Steinbacher of Church of the Eternal Hills Presbyterian. Members of Grand County’s Jewish Community were also on hand for the event under the spiritual leadership of lay Rabbi Claude Diamond. Additionally, Pastor Francisco Torres, who leads a Spanish language house church in Grand County, and members of his congregation were also on hand for the proceedings.
As dusk descended upon the Fraser valley near Granby, the crowd of congregants circled around a peace pole in the prayer circle at Lord of the Valley, located in the open space between Highway 40 and the church. As attendees solemnly light one another’s candles the clergy members led the group in a Taize-style chant song, “Lord hear my prayer.”
After brief comments and prayers from the faith leaders scriptures were read. Steinbacher highlighted one reading in particular, Psalm 51.
“We have turned a blind eye to this sort of hatred for a long time,” Steinbacher said. “Because we thought we were done with it. I was so happy to see a good turn out. It was refreshing and encouraging in these dark times to see that kind of light.”
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