Home / Animals / Pastors' group praises peaceful protest

Pastors' group praises peaceful protest

The fact that last week’s visit by white nationalist Richard Spencer went as peacefully as it did was a blessing, members of a local pastors’ association said.

“We are making a statement today about how thankful we are our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ didn’t allow anything catastrophic to happen in our community last week during the visit by Richard Spencer,” said the Rev. Karl Anderson, pastor of Upper Room Ministries in Gainesville and president of the Alachua County Christian Pastors Association.

Anderson and the association held a press conference Monday morning in front of the Phillips Center on the University of Florida campus where Spencer, leader of the Alexandria, Virginia-based National Policy Institute, spoke Thursday.

The visit by Spencer sparked concerns that violence might break out in Gainesville as it did during the white nationalist’s visit to Charlottesville, Virginia in August as part of a Unite the Right rally, when 32-year-old Heather Heyer, of Charlottesville, was killed after a car driven by 20-year-old James Fields Jr., of Maumee, Ohio, plowed into a group of protesters.

The Gainesville event wasn’t without violence altogether. At least one Spencer supporter was punched at the protest, and three Spencer supporters were arrested Thursday night in connection with a single shot fired at a group of Spencer protesters sitting on a bus bench in front of the closed Radio Shack at 3315 SW Archer Road after the event.

Anderson said the pastors’ stance against bigotry and hatred and their message of love, peace and unity will continue to be stressed.

Phil Courson, pastor of Abundant Grace Community Church in Gainesville and the association’s vice president, said the overwhelming condemnation from the community against what Spencer stands for sent a clear message the university and local communities are tolerant of a lot of things, but not bigotry, hatred or divisiveness.

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

The association will continue to work together to bridge gaps locally, Anderson said.

The group of more than 60 members formed in 2016 when two former pastoral groups — one predominantly black and the other predominantly white — decided to come together. The black group was known as the Alachua County Christian Ministerial Alliance and the white group was known as the Christian Pastors Association.

Bridging gaps must start in the church, the pastors agreed.

“We must lead by example because if the church doesn’t do it, ordinary citizens might not do it,” said the Rev. Bob Shettler, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville. 

Leave a Reply

[userpro template=view]