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Religious Leaders Host Prayer Walk to Stand Up to Hate

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religious leaders at prayer walk on Downtown Mall religious leaders at prayer walk on Downtown Mall
prayer walk on Downtown Mall in Charlottesville prayer walk on Downtown Mall in Charlottesville
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Religious leaders in Charlottesville say they're tired of hate and acts of violence that have swept across the country since the presidential election. They're taking action to unite the community.

Clergy members in Charlottesville took to the Downtown Mall Sunday afternoon. Despite coming from different denominations and backgrounds, these leaders have a unified message of faith and hope.

"We have a call to prayer," the Rev. Alvin Edwards said.

Edwards is tired of seeing acts of racial hatred and violence across the country.

"The number of people who have been threatened with violent acts and all the marches, we as a people of faith need to speak out about justice for all," Edwards said.

He created the Charlottesville Clergy Collective, a teams of religious leaders from various denominations with a common goal.

“We've been meeting, a group of pastors, myself, have been meeting for the last year and a half maybe,” Edwards said. "If we're not together, we can't really expect people in our congregations to be together."

Phil Woodson with the First United Methodist Church says he was more than willing to get involved.

"I feel anger. I feel despair. I feel all of the things that a lot of people do when they see such sin and such hatred," Woodson said.

The faith leaders agreed they needed to take action by marching and praying along the Downtown Mall Sunday afternoon.

"It will serve as a catalyst for action. A spark for the Holy Spirit stirring our souls to action," Woodson said.

Rabbi educator Rachel Schmelkin says by joining in prayer, they are taking a stand.

"One of the things I love most about Judaism is that it gives you the feeling that you're not alone. So I think for anybody out there who's suffering, know that you're not alone. Know that we're with you," Schmelkin said.

She says coming together through religion may be the best way to unite people.

"The only way we can make the world the place that we want to be is by working together and by being in community together," Schmelkin said.

The Charlottesville Clergy Collective meets regularly to address the challenge of race relations in the city and Albemarle County. They hope the prayer walk will inspire people to stand up to hate.

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