Religious leaders: We must respond

Religious leaders:  We must respond
April 26
08:19 2018

On Sunday, April 22, Unitarian Universaist Fellowship of Winston-Salem (UUFWS) dealt with an act of vandalism at its church. Their Black Lives Matter banner was stolen and the word “white” was spray painted in black across the front doors of the main entrance.

“Everytime a vandal destroys a sign, takes one down or tries to confront people in our parking lot we feel more galvanized about standing on the side of love,” said UUFWS Pastor Lisa Schwartz at a press conference held at Emmanuel Baptist Church on Tuesday, April 24. “We consider it standing for the Black Lives Matter Movement and we feel the people that have committed those acts have unwittingly lifted up the reason why we do it.”

The press conference was after the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV) meeting to show unity among faith leaders in the community.

UUFWS has long been a champion for social justice and racial equality. They have had a Black Lives Matter banner for several years. The banner has been stolen and vandalized multiple times, which has caused the church to purchase spare banners.

“It also proves to any doubters or nay sayers in our congregation that there is a good reason for us to stand firm, especially in that part of Winston-Salem to make that statement,” she continued. The church is at 4055 Robinhood Road in the western part of Winston-Salem.

According to Schwartz, the perpetrators were caught on camera. She says it appears to be three young white males who committed the crime in question. She says she would love to catch the criminals and have them perform community service in an African-American community so they would have a better understanding of someone from a different race.

All of the faith leaders stood behind Schwartz and the message UUFWS presented Tuesday afternoon. The Ministers’ Conference members wanted the offenders to know such an act will only bring the community closer together to continue fighting injustice.

“We know that we need to respond to any kind of acts of hatred that are thrown at any community because there is no place for that in any community,” said Rev. Kelly Carpenter, senior pastor of Green Street United Methodist Church. “This is a time for us to come together and be reminded that we are a part of a larger community.

Rabbi Mark Cohn of Temple Emanuel added, “I think for us as Jews, we have lived with a lot of hate around us and so we know how it feels when something awful happens. It shows us that this racism thing is a white problem and this is on us to figure out. We have to wake up and do something positive.”

Bishop Todd Fulton, social justice chairman of the MCWSV, says this is a time for African-Americans to stand with others to give back to those that have helped in the past.
“I think it is a beautiful thing when we can have Jews, Protestants, Catholics and people of all different faiths come together in solidarity,” Fulton said. “What it says ultimately is that those who have a vested interest in keeping us apart are losing and we are winning.”

Rev. Dr. Lamonte Williams, president of the MCWSV, says this is common place for the conference to band together for the greater good and lend a helping hand to those in need.
“Our show of solidarity is two-fold because Rev. Schwartz is a part of the conference and it could have been any one of our pastors’ churches, so what affects one affects us all,” said Williams. “It’s incumbent upon us to rise to the occasion and say that this is not acceptable.”

On Wednesday, April 25, the faith community and other community leaders were scheduled to gather at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to stand in support of their ongoing witness for racial justice, and to declare that acts of intimidation and hatred will find no welcome in Winston-Salem. 

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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