Beliefs aside, community gathers for August 12 interfaith service

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – The August 12, 2017 anniversary in Charlottesville was all about reflection and coming together.

“Bringing the community together as one, just like we were that day, that weekend, and all of this summer really; just to give people the opportunity, once again, to reach out, touch and love each other,” said community activist Don Gathers.

Gathers helped defend white supremacy in 2017 and he is still working as an activist in the city 5 years later.

He is a deacon and spoke at Friday’s interfaith service, hosted by the Mount Zion First African Baptist Church.

“If we don’t stay vigilant, it could very easily happen to us again, and we don’t want that to happen again here. We don’t want this to happen in another community. We need to stay on the same mindset and united to avoid this,” Gathers said.

As prayers were said, heads bowed and hymns sung, there was no single religion behind the service. It was not a day to divide into beliefs.

“It’s more about spiritualities, as opposed to particular denominations. The community of faith here in Charlottesville is large and expansive. But we all believe that, you know, we have to come together,” Gathers said.

Community members say it’s about giving thanks. Thank you that we are here, and strong.

“Everything and nothing has changed. It was ages ago, and it was just a moment ago,” Gathers said. “We don’t want this to happen in another community. therefore remain on the same state of mind and united in order to avoid this.

When we join hands, religions, organizations, neighborhoods, we show that Charlottesville is not defined by a single event.

Charlottesville is more than this summer of hate. It’s a community. That was five years ago, and it is now, and it always will be.

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