Hundreds of area ministers call for churches to combat racism and anti-Semitism

8/25/2017, 6:37 p.m.
Several hundred Richmond area pastors and ministers came together Monday in an unprecedented display of unity to reject white supremacy ...
David Bailey, left, executive director of Arrabon, and Pastor Corey Widmer of Third Church in Henrico County speak at Monday’s news conference they organized at the Maggie L. Walker Plaza in Downtown.

He said people should pray for the white supremacists. “Then they can repent and God will forgive them because, right now, they know not what they do.”

Several pastors said the challenge now facing Richmond and localities around the nation is serious, open and honest conversation among people, without regard to race and religious affiliation.

Tim Holtz of the Richmond Christian Leadership Initiative said conversations he has been a part of stress the importance of people in the white community talking with one another about racism and white supremacy.

“There are things that can only be said by white folks to other white folks,” Mr. Holtz said. “Talk to one another about ways we are practicing our faith.”

Richmond’s history as the former capital of the Confederacy continues to play a significant role in both dividing and unifying communities, others said. It has both served as a major hub for the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the hometown crucial to making L. Douglas Wilder, the grandson of a slave, the nation’s first elected African-American governor.

“We believe this is an unprecedented moment of unity in Richmond’s history,” said Pastor Don Coleman of East End Fellowship and co-founder of Bless RVA. “We hope that this day will be remembered as the day when God brought the church together to lead the way toward Jesus Christ’s perfect standard of equality, justice and love.”