Dear UCG Family,
As you are aware, our community soon will be undergoing a significant challenge with the October 19 visit of white supremacist, Richard Spencer. Along with other community partners, religious leaders, and law enforcement, we join in faith and in the determination that hate speech and violent action have no place among us.
Some weeks ago, the Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, and the University of Florida Police Department called a mass meeting of faith leaders, the NAACP, and other community partners to strongly urge the members of our community who reject the hate speech of these white supremacists to stay away from protesting at the venue where Spencer will be, and to show our resistance in other ways. University of Florida President Kenneth Fuchs also has made that request. However, we recognize that each of us must make our own decisions regarding the most appropriate responses for us. We have engaged in extensive conversation with others trained in the nuances of nonviolent resistance, with the Alachua County Faith Leaders Alliance, and consulted with clergy leaders in Charlottesville. The need is strong for us to remain united in our rejection of hatred and violence while offering a variety of responses to this event. Throughout the week, and especially on October 19, a variety of sanctuary spaces, open houses of worship, and activities that demonstrate solidarity with one another will be taking place.
Here is what we at the United Church of Gainesville will offer as alternative ways to respond that will uphold our values and invite positive speech, community-building, peacemaking.
•October 16 at Gainesville City Hall, 5:30 PM, the Alachua County Faith Leaders Alliance will be holding a press conference for the purpose of sharing a joint statement of solidarity, peace, and inclusion. It is a positive statement of the values of our communities of faith. We refuse to make a space for hate. Please come down to City Hall to stand in solidarity with us in that effort. The full text of this statement appears at the end of this email and it will be published in the Gainesville Sun this weekend.
•October 16-19 from 8:30 AM-4:30 PM and October 20 from 8:30 AM-12:00 PM at UCG: our sanctuary will be open to all for informal Labyrinth Walks, prayers and meditation
•October 19, 5:00 pm-7:00 pm at UCG: A Labyrinth Walk Service of Inclusion and Peace, Candle lighting, and Prayers. Volunteers may help by providing music or readings or sitting with anyone who needs support. Let Shelly know if you are interested in helping.
•October 19, 5:00pm-7:00pm, Reimer Hall: ART FOR PEACE, an opportunity for children, youth, and adults to create art together, led by Kristen Stone. Volunteers are welcome to assist with art.
•October 15-22 Gainesville Pride Week. An act of strong and peaceful resistance to the agenda of white supremacists is to carry on with the Pride-filled celebrations we always enjoy together. Events are being sponsored by Equality Florida, the Pride Center of North Central Florida, UCG, Trinity Metropolitan Community Church, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and the Diversity and Multicultural Center at UF. Attend the Pride parade and festival downtown on October 21 and our UCG Sunday services on October 22.
It is essential that we carry on with the work we do through UCG, now more than ever. The acts of resistance to white supremacy are daily disciplines that do not begin or end with the events of next week. Every day, it is our good work to continue to press toward equity, inclusion, peace, and welcome for all. As our Pride shirts say, “Y’all means all.”
Please hold our community in the light of healing in this troubled time.
Your ministerial team,
Andy Bachmann, Talia Raymond, Shelly Wilson
Alachua County Faith Leaders Alliance Statement on October 19 white nationalist rally
In light of recent public displays of hatred and violence, the distressing normalization of hateful and divisive ideologies, and the impending white nationalist event within our own community, we, the members of Alachua County Faith Leaders Alliance, offer these words of hope.
Gainesville is a city of many colors, beliefs, and ideologies. The diversity of humanity is what makes our city special. Gainesville is a city of hope; our residents and guests know that there is far more uniting us than could ever divide us. We are committed to the conviction that we are one human family. Therefore, we join together to reject beliefs that would tear our community apart.
As faith leaders we stand for love, knowing that each of us is created in the image of our Creator, and by our Creator we are called to care for one another as God cares for us.
Islam teaches us that God organized us into nations and tribes precisely to foster appreciation of the unity underlying our outward differences. The prophet Muhammad said, “All humankind is from Adam and Eve. A white person has no superiority over a black person, nor a black person over a white person except by piety and good action” (Last Sermon, Bukhari 1623,1626,6361).
Judaism teaches that one of God’s core commandments is “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
Christianity teaches that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Buddhism teaches us that “Every human being has a basic nature of goodness, which is undiluted and unconfused. That goodness contains tremendous gentleness and appreciation. By serving this world, we can save it. But saving the world is not enough. We have to work to build an enlightened human society as well…” (Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior).
We believe, along with Unitarian Universalist minister, Rev. Kendyl Gibbons, that:
“Out of a community of diverse heritage and belief, we come together to share our hope, and to create good in the world. The teachers of all traditions and times have taught that we are called to mercy, generosity, and mutual care and that to be good is to serve. We know that there can be no enduring happiness for humanity so long as despair reigns and want goes unrelieved. Until all may be sheltered, none of us is truly at home. May the power of our various faiths sustain us in this calling, that we may be the hands of holy creativity and justice. Together may we build a better world.”
Today we stand united in our diversity and stronger for it. Gainesville is a city of hope; a city of love; a city of peace. Hate and violence have no place here. We choose to be united in love.
Alachua County Faith Leaders Alliance
Rev. Andy Bachmann, United Church of Gainesville
Rev. Catherine Dearlove, Trinity Metropolitan Community Church
Rev. Chad Fair, Gethsemane Lutheran Church
Rev. Beth Farabee, First United Methodist Church of Gainesville
Father Reed Freeman, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
Rev. Larry Green, Westminster Presbyterian Church
Rev. Milford L.Griner, Bartley Temple United Methodist Church
Rev. Terrance Jacob, University Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Kevin Johnson, First United Methodist Church of Gainesville
Rabbi Michael Joseph, Temple Shir Shalom
Dr. Saeed Khan, Hoda Islamic Center
Rabbi David Kaiman, Congregation B’nai Israel
Rev. Maureen Killoran, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville
Sandy Lyon, Gainesville Quaker Meeting
Rev. Eve MacMaster, Emmanuel Mennonite Church
Dr. Richard MacMaster, Emmanuel Mennonite Church
Rev. Greg Magruder, Parkview Baptist Church
Rev. Geraldine McClellan, Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church
Heather Pancoast, Gator Wesley Campus Ministry
Joel Pancoast, Gator Wesley Campus Ministry
Rev. Catherine Fluck Price, Trinity United Methodist Church
Rev. Steve Price, Trinity United Methodist Church
Rev. Talia Raymond, United Church of Gainesville
Rev. Aaron Rousseau, Trinity United Methodist Church
Rev. Lenora Rousseau, Trinity United Methodist Church
Dr. Dennis Shuman, P’nai Or Gainesville Jewish Renewal Congregation
Father Les Singleton, Church of the Mediator
Jan Snyder, Gainesville Shambhala Meditation Group
Rev. Shelly Wilson, United Church of Gainesville
Bonnie Zimmer, Gainesville Quaker Meeting
Alternative events planned by ACFLA congregations:
GAINESVILLE QUAKER MEETING
October 19, 2:00pm-6:00pm
Meeting for worship in the Library
All are welcome
TEMPLE SHIR SHALOM
October 19, 1:00pm-5:00pm
Gathering for peace, an opportunity to spend difficult hours with good friends. Light refreshments will be provided, and opportunities for community-building work. Please consider bringing some food to donate to the hungry, and some food to share with each other.
TRINITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
October 19, 2:00pm-5:00pm
Open Chapel for prayer, meditation, and candle lighting
UNITED CHURCH OF GAINESVILLE
October 16-19 from 8:30 am-4:30 pm – Labyrinth walk for prayers and meditation in the sanctuary
October 19, 5:00 pm-7:00 pm – Service of Labyrinth Walk, Candle lighting, and Prayers
Also on October 19, 5:00pm-7:00pm, ART FOR PEACE, an opportunity for children, youth, and adults to create art together All events are open to the public