To support a local faith leader who recently experienced race-related hate incidents, a multifaith solidarity prayer vigil is planned for this Sunday, Aug. 29.
On Aug. 15, Rev. Debra Murray, senior pastor at the First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto, experienced a series of hate incidents and was threatened because of her Black Lives Matter sign and leadership, according to the event flyer.
Murray declined to describe the incidents in further detail to this news organization because she didn't want the incidents to receive further public attention.
Other incidents have been directed at Black Lives Matter and Black religious leaders, people in the community and houses of worship in the Palo Alto area, according to the flyer.
To show solidarity with the First United Methodist faith community, visitors are invited to attend a prayer gathering Sunday, Aug 29, from 1 to 1:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church at 625 Hamilton Ave., between Byron and Webster streets, in Palo Alto. Faith leaders from diverse traditions around the area are expected to attend.
Attendees are expected to wear masks and remain socially distanced, and may bring positive signs of support. "Please remember that this is a prayer gathering, not a protest," the flyer states.
Many local faith leaders have also signaled their support of the initiative by signing an open letter expressing commitment to the community to help it "transform histories of division and discrimination into deep connection and solidarity."
"While religious leaders are not all of the same mind on how to approach issues of racial injustice, we are all deeply angered and saddened by these events and stand in solidarity with our Black siblings in Palo Alto. Many of us are strong supporters of Black Lives Matter," the letter states.
The letter's authors also stated that recent hate crimes build on "a long-standing pattern of racial hate and exclusion directed at people of color in Palo Alto.
"We unequivocally condemn all acts of emotional, institutional or physical violence directed at any member of the African American or Asian American communities in Palo Alto. We reject false narratives about the dangers of BLM and all attempts to pit people of color against one another in our ongoing commitment to antiracism.
"We know that Palo Alto has much deep and difficult work to do in order to confront and dismantle its own patterns of cultural and institutional racism. We seek to atone for the ways in which we, as individuals or institutions, have been complicit in racist laws and policies. And we lament that too often we have chosen our own comfort and way of life over the equality and dignity of others.
"As we move forward, we dedicate ourselves to the work of antiracism within ourselves, the communities that we serve, and the city of Palo Alto, as well as our global family," the letter continued.
Go to multifaithpeace.org for more information.