Baptist leaders are organizing an Aug. 12 event to counter a white supremacist rally set to take place in Washington, D.C., on the same day.
White supremacists have planned a “Unite the Right 2” rally in D.C.’s Lafayette Square, adjacent to the White House – one year after the Charlottesville, Virginia, “Unite the Right” rally.
The event application described the rally as focusing on “white civil rights,” according to the Associated Press.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (1964 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC, 20024), roughly two miles southwest of Lafayette Square, will be the site of “United by Love,” a rally organized by New Baptist Covenant “to stand against white supremacy and to commit to working together for racial justice.”
The 2 p.m. (ET) event will bring together two congregations – one historically white, First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C., and one historically black, Nineteenth Street Baptist Church.
“These churches share a common heritage but separated along racial lines in 1839,” an Aug. 3 New Baptist Covenant media release stated. “At ‘United by Love,’ they will come together to respond to the white supremacists’ rally and commit to moving forward together for racial justice in a time when our national politics are exacerbating racial tensions throughout our country.”
A request to hold a “Unite the Right 2” event in Charlottesville was denied by city officials due to public safety concerns.
Jason Kessler, principal organizer of both “Unite the Right” rallies, had filed suit against the city for violating his constitutional rights, but formally withdrew the suit in late July and announced the 2018 rally’s location as D.C.
At the Baptist-led rally, central elements will be a service of communion, a time for singing and a prayer walk, which will be led by Hannah McMahan, executive director of New Baptist Covenant; Julie Pennington-Russell, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C.; and Darryl Roberts, senior pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in D.C.
“On the anniversary of a day marked by so much hatred, pain and divisiveness, it’s beautiful to see many, many faith groups and congregations preparing to bear witness to the powerful, pervasive love of God,” Pennington-Russell told EthicsDaily.com. “Our congregation is grateful for the chance to counter-plant seeds of Christian faith, hope and love by sharing communion at the MLK Memorial with our brothers and sisters from the historic Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, a congregation with which we have shared a significant, sometimes painful, history since the early 19th century. I so admire the leadership, boldness and faith of my friend, Rev. Dr. Darryl Roberts, and I’m eager to see what God may do in and through this shared experience on Sunday.”