200 gather in unity against ha­tred

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By JOHN GRIEP Ex­ec­u­tive Edi­tor

OX­FORD — Nearly 200 peo­ple gath­ered Fri­day evening, Aug. 18, at Ox­ford Park in a sign of com­mu­nity unity and sol­i­dar­ity against ha­tred.

“Shab­bat in the Park: A Wor­ship Ser­vice of Com­mu­nity Unity” was or­ga­nized by Rabbi Peter Hy­man of Tem­ple B’Nai Is­rael and other clergy lead­ers as a re­sponse to the hate and vi­o­lence last week­end in Char­lottesville, Va.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions in­cluded the Is­lamic Cen­ter of Del­marva, Tal­bot As­so­ci­a­tion of Clergy and Laity, NAACP, the Oaks of Mamre Grad­u­ate Cen­ter, the Fred­er­ick Dou­glass Honor So­ci­ety, Christ Church (Kent Is­land), Christ Church (St. Michaels), St. Paul’s Evan­gel­i­cal Lutheran Church, Uni­tar­ian Univer­sal­ist Fel­low­ship of Eas­ton, P.E.A.C.E., Tal­bot Ris­ing, TriLife Christian Cen­ter and the Ch­e­sa­peake Mul­ti­cul­tural Re­source Cen­ter.

The ser­vice in­cluded prayers, songs, read­ings and a can­dle light­ing.

“Grant us courage in our faight. Strenghten our con­vic­tion that through us the world can be trans­formed: a world where neigh­bors lift not sword against neigh­bor, nor study war any­more. A world where the shin­ing beauty of Your cre­ation is no longer eclipsed by the specter of vi­o­lence and the blind­ing stain of blood­shed.”

Those at­tend­ing read along with por­tions of the ser vice:

“In com­mu­nity, we are of one body; each has a part to play. When one fails or fal­ters, we all suf­fer.

“In com­mu­nity, we be­come whole ... but there is al­ways room for growth.

“In com­mu­nity, we help an­other who fal­ters. We have em­pa­thy for an­other’s suf­fer­ing. A trou­ble shared is a trou­ble cut in half.

“Com­mu­nity means sur­round­ing our­selves with peo­ple who will build us up and not put us down, who will en­cour­age us and not pay lip ser vice to our wounds.

“Com­mu­nity en­gen­ders car­ing.

“In true com­mu­nity, we ap­pre­ci­ate peo­ple of dif­fer­ent back­grounds, em­brac­ing their dif­fer­ences; rec­og­niz­ing that di­ver­sity makes us richer, stronger and better peo­ple.”

The Right Rev. Joel Mar­cus John­son, pres­i­dent of The Oaks of Mamre Grad­u­ate Cen­ter, read Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s Aug. 21, 1790, let­ter to the He­brew Con­gre­ga­tion at New­port. Wash­ing­ton wrote: “It is now no more that tol­er­a­tion is spo­ken of as if it were the in­dul­gence of one class of peo­ple that an­other en­joyed the ex­er­cise of their in­her­ent nat­u­ral rights, for, hap­pily, the Govern­ment of the United States, which gives to big­otry no sanc­tion, to per­se­cu­tion no as­sis­tance, only re­quires that they who live un­der its pro­tec­tion should de­mean them­selves as good cit­i­zens in giv­ing it on all oc­ca­sions their ef­fec­tual sup­port.”

The Rev. Nancy Sa­jda of the Tal­bot As­so­ci­a­tion of Clergy and Laity read “We Will Not Yield,” by Alden Solovy.

The poem in­cludes these lines:

“To­day, I am nei­ther Demo­crat nor Repub­li­can, Nei­ther left nor right nor cen­ter. “I am an Amer­i­can, “Born to a legacy of truth and jus­tice, Born to a legacy of free­dom and equal­ity.

“To­day, I am a pa­triot Who will not yield this na­tion to hate.

“Not to neo-Nazis. Not to thugs self-styled as mili­tia.

“Not to slo­gans or chants. Not to ges­tures or flags.

“Not to threats and not to vi­o­lence. “Hate is hate, “Ugly and brutal, “And we will not yield.” Songs in­cluded “Imag­ine” by John Len­non, “Let There be Peace on Earth” and “God Bless Amer­ica.”

Dur­ing the Mishe­ber­ach (a prayer for heal­ing), Rabbi Hy­man said, “May the One who blessed our an­ces­tors, Abra­ham, Isaac, and Ja­cob, Sarah, Re­becca, Leah and Rachel bless all those who await Your heal­ing touch. May the Blessed Holy One be filled with mercy, heal and strengthen them, send­ing them com­plete heal­ing of body and spirit, along with all those in Is­rael who are ill.”

Hy­man also asked for heal­ing for those af­fected by the vi­o­lence in Char­lottesville, in­clud­ing the fam­i­lies, friends and col­leagues of Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car was driven into a crowd of counter-demon­stra­tors, and Lt. H. Jay Cullen and trooper-pi­lot Berke M.M. Bates, two Vir­ginia State Po­lice troop­ers who died in a he­li­copter crash af­ter mon­i­tor­ing the events in Char­lottesville.

Heal­ing also was sought from the ha­tred and racism, “from the per­ni­cious ac­tions and no­tions” seen in Char­lottesville.

“This is not the way the world should be,” Hy­man said.

Other speak­ers Fri­day night in­cluded the Rev. Mark Del­cuze of Christ Church Kent Is­land and the Rev. Dr. Wil­liam Wal­lace Sr.

Among the crowd were sev­eral of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Michael Pullen, a Demo­cratic can­di­date for the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the First Dis­trict; Sen. Ad­die Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore; Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37BTal­bot; Eas­ton Mayor Bob Wil­ley, Tal­bot County Man­ager Andy Hol­lis; and Tal­bot County Deputy State’s At­tor­ney Ellen Barry Grun­den.

Near the end of the cer­e­mony, Grun­den led the group in singing “God Bless Amer­ica,” singing the first verse be­fore the crowd joined in on the cho­rus.

Hy­man last week called the events of Char­lottesville “a rep­re­hen­si­ble cir­cum­stance” that goes “against ev­ery­thing we be­lieve and have been taught the United States of Amer­ica is about.

He also said the Nazi sym­bols, chants and salutes were “an af­front to vet­er­ans ev­ery­where that fought and served in World War II.”

“It is up to faith com­mu­nity lead­ers, our govern­ment of­fi­cials and the com­mu­nity to make a stand in op­po­si­tion,” Hy­man said. “To re­main silent in the face of this would speak vol­umes louder than any­thing else. This is our re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

“We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity as faith lead­ers in our com­mu­nity to hold a mir­ror up and to live up to our most deeply held val­ues,” the Rev. Sue Brown­ing of Uni­tar­ian Univer­sal­ist Fel­low­ship at Eas­ton said last week. “We need to look at what unites us and helps us to cre­ate a com­mu­nity in which we want to live in.”

On Satur­day, Aug. 12, street brawls broke out in Char­lottesville be­tween al­tright pro­test­ers, many of whom car­ried shields, weapons, and Nazi and Con­fed­er­ate bat­tle flags, and coun­ter­demon­stra­tors. Both groups had per­mits to protest. Staff writer De­nae Spier­ing con­trib­uted to this story.

PHOTO BY JOHN GRIEP

Rabbi Peter Hy­man of Tem­ple B’Nai Is­rael leads a com­mu­nity unity wor­ship ser­vice Fri­day evening, Aug. 18, at the Ox­ford Park.

The Rev. Dr. Wil­liam Wal­lace Sr. speaks Fri­day evening, Aug. 18, at a com­mu­nity unity wor­ship ser­vice at the Ox­ford Park.

PHO­TOS BY JOHN GRIEP

The Rev. Mark Del­cuze of Christ Church St. Michaels speaks Fri­day evening, Aug. 18, at a com­mu­nity unity wor­ship ser­vice at the Ox­ford Park.

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