UCC national prayer vigil calls people together after riots at the U.S. Capitol
Prayers for calm, for democracy, for the soul of the nation were lifted up Wednesday evening across the United Church of Christ after a defiant mob of pro-Trump terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol. Rioters breached the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives on Jan. 6, and stopped the counting of electoral votes to certify Joe Biden as the next president.
Congregations, Conferences and national ministries held a number of vigils to give people an opportunity to collectively grieve the insurrection aimed at the blocking the transfer of power.
The Rev. Traci Blackmon, associate general minister, welcomed more than 1,000 participants to a Zoom service at 7:30 ET, just hours after Washington D.C. was locked down — “something,” she said, “we thought we would never see as the United States of America. … People all over the world were exposed what happens when racism and hatred go unchecked.”
She opened with a song learned from her great grandmother, singing, “In thee oh God, we place our trust … In thee, oh God, we seek our peace … We pray, oh God, to heal your land … Be with us, oh God, we need your love.”
The Rev. Gordon Rankin, chair of the Council of Conference Ministers, shared Psalm 91, “a psalm of protection.” He prayed for those who work and serve in Washington, D.C., and for those who call it home. “God’s faithfulness is a shield and a buckler,” he said. “You have made the Lord your refuge.”
Noting this violence took place on the feast of the Epiphany, Yvette Wynn, chair of the UCC Board said, “It is in times like these we are called to be the church. We have to come together as God’s people to witness and pray.”
In his pastoral address, General Minister and President John Dorhauer spoke with both a heavy and hopeful heart about what he and the rest of the country witnessed today — heavy with the persistence of evil, and hopeful in the enduring love of Jesus.
“I knew in my bones what I was watching was evil, embodied in white supremacists. White vigilantes breaching security lines … evil has come to America,” he said. “Evil exists, evil persists, we will name it — but it cannot stop the power of love.” He called on the group to resist evil and “practice the art of love that leads to justice for all.”
The Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, associate general minister, then brought the light to the vigil, inviting all present to light candles and add their prayers and intentions to the chat. “This moment gathers us across borders and boundaries,” she said, as she lit candles and called for justice. “God is with us tonight as we join our hearts in prayer.” She prayed for healing, for the land, for lawmakers and for the people who died in the melee at the Capitol.
Before the benediction by the Rev. Cameron Barr, senior pastor of the United Church of Chapel Hill, Matthew Cleaver sang a hauntingly beautiful rendition of the hymn “Abide With Me,” by Henry Francis Lyte.
“Today’s violence was possible because the truth has become murky to us,” Barr said. “Grant that the light of truth will show us the way. We are called to walk in that light.”
As the service concluded with a choral performance of “I Believe” performed remotely by Christ Church Choir of Summit N.J., members of Congress went back to work on the electoral vote count at the Capitol, as police in riot gear stood watch.
Watch the entire service here on YouTube.
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