Bleakness. That was the “take-away feeling” expressed by Amy Miller from recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where “violent hatred [was] being spewed against people that are our brothers and sisters.” The member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Leesburg, Virginia, grappled with a response, and led her congregation to use their visible location on “God’s work. Our hands.’ Sunday” to show the community where they stand: with love.
“We covered our lawn with 50 no hate signs, and let the community know how we felt,” says the Rev. Gerry Johnson, the congregation’s pastor. “We invited people to take a sign for their home. In 36 hours, all 50 signs were gone!”
A videographer in the congregation beautifully captured the project (watch video), and Thrivent Financial helped them acquire the signs.
“It has been incredible,” says Pr. Johnson. “I think the congregation has felt a sense of purpose. We are here to make a mark in our community, and the signs helped us to say ‘this is who we are – we look to love.’”
Response has not been solely positive. A driver-by phoned the church office to challenge who the congregation was and was not ready to love. But the call led to important dialogue. “I told her we focus on God’s grace, and God’s grace goes out for all,” the pastor responded.