Prayer vigil for Charleston to be held in Decatur Square

Posted by Dena Mellick June 24, 2015

A prayer vigil in memory of those killed in a shooting in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17 will take place in the Decatur Square this Saturday, June 27.

A group called Create Community 4 Decatur is organizing the vigil, according to The Decatur Minute, the city’s blog. But city commissioners will not be able to attend. The blog said, “The Decatur City Commission thanks Create Community 4 Decatur, a group of people from multiple faiths, multiple cultures and multiple paths, for organizing the vigil. Regretfully, city commissioners will be out of town for a previously scheduled meeting in Savannah. We will, however, be there in spirit, and we encourage everyone who feels so moved to participate.”

Here’s the full post by the city about the vigil:

The Decatur City Commission supports the prayer vigil in honor and remembrance of Charleston victims

As a community, Decatur mourns with Charleston and the rest of the nation for the loss of nine lives to senseless, racially motivated violence. This Saturday, June 27, there will be a prayer vigil on the Decatur square to remember and honor the victims of the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The program will begin at 8:06 p.m. at the community bandstand.

The Decatur City Commission thanks Create Community 4 Decatur, a group of people from multiple faiths, multiple cultures and multiple paths, for organizing the vigil. Regretfully, city commissioners will be out of town for a previously scheduled meeting in Savannah. We will, however, be there in spirit, and we encourage everyone who feels so moved to participate.

Decatur is a city that wants to make Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community a lived reality where “Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice [are] replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.” This is why the Leadership Circle, a group of volunteers, has been working for the past year to create a process for Better Together, a citizen-led, government supported effort to build deeper connection, understanding and mutual respect among the Decatur community. Better Together launches its first of many open-to-everyone discussions at the end of August that will culminate in the creation of a tangible Community Action Plan. We will take this tragedy in Charleston and mourn for it, learn from it, and commit to being better people because of it, speaking out against racism and working to be a community that is welcoming and equitable for all.

About Dena Mellick

Dena Mellick is the Associate Editor of Decaturish.com.

View all posts by Dena Mellick

  • Chris Billingsley

    The Decatur square has been used as the focal point for many community gatherings over the years. Most of us have participated in Independence Day celebrations, homecoming parades and various festivals that have been, for the most part, positive reflections of the shared values of the people of Decatur. For many years, Decatur High School celebrated the opening game of football season with a pep rally on the square. I’ve seen pictures of large rallies held on the square supporting the troops during periods of national conflict. The square and historic courthouse are also home to memorials that honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in defense of our freedom. Almost all of these gathering have been organized by leaders, businesses and organizations from the City of Decatur. Rallies “Made In-Decatur” were the norm.
    This is not the case with the rally planned for Saturday evening. After reading the article, I googled the name of the organization, “Create Community 4 Decatur”. Nothing pops up which makes me think that the organization doesn’t exist or it is one of these flash mob groups from Twitter and has no real structure. This is a bad sign. The Decatur Minute describes them as being made up of “many faiths…” but I don’t recall anything being said last Sunday at my church, Saint Thomas More, urging parishioners to attend. This is not to suggest that some churches won’t be there. I’m willing to bet that two small but politically influential Decatur churches will be present and highly involved in the vigil. And does anyone besides me think it strange that all the commissioners will be out of town? You would think that some of them would drive back to attend. I can only guess that the reason it starts at 8:06 is to correspond the the approximate time of the Charleston shooting spree but for most Decatur families, who will be home (or should be) this late in the evening, attendance will be difficult. Who then, will be likely to attend? I expect the crowd to look like the bunch that blocked traffic at Commerce and Ponce several weeks ago only angrier.
    And what will motivate the crowd? The vigil will begin with remembering the tragedy of the Charleston church murders but it won’t be entirely about that. You can be sure that the Confederate Memorial on the square is in for a lot of hate. Some sort of vandalism is likely without a strong police presence. And they will be targeted too. Those who support policies to weaken the authority of our police officers will have a lot to say. But more than anything else, the vigil will represent a political and social movement, here in Decatur and across the U.S, that seeks to fundamentally transform a way of life that most Americans took for granted just a few years ago. The organizers of the vigil are up front with their agenda. They demand that ““Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice [are] replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.” What does this mean? Our churches that support traditional beliefs about family and marriage will be attacked as well as other private organizations. Neighborhoods and businesses that are identified as not diverse enough will face greater scrutiny from government regulations. Our schools, already shaped by a political agenda, will become less tolerant of students and parents who express contrary opinions. The above statement, from the Charter of Compassion movement, is not some feel good slogan from aging hippies but the slippery slope to totalitarianism.
    But I hope many from Decatur attend the event. If I’m wrong and the reports are of a peaceful prayer vigil then I will apologize. But if I’m right and this is a political rally disguised as a prayer vigil, you will witness what what the Leadership Circle and Better Together has in store for Decatur and the rest of America.
    If you agree with some of what I have written, I urge you to attend the next commission meeting and request two things. 1. You stand up and tell the commissioners that you support our police force and oppose the efforts of the Community Coalition to weaken their authority and 2. Demand that the secret meetings of the Leadership Circle and BetterTogether committees be opened to all who would like to attend and that they give a full accounting of the their discussions so far.
    The victims and families of the Charleston church massacre deserve more reverence than a flash mob.

    • underscorex

      Wow.

      A vigil in memorial of black people killed by a racist terrorist (because that’s what he was) and you’re worried about the safety of a monument to the Confederacy?

      That is… galling, to put it lightly.

      You still have the right to your opinions, Chris. You do not have the right to escape criticism of those opinions, especially when you imply that the beliefs of others are actually some sort of socialist Trojan Horse, while you are simply poor, put-upon Jeremiah, crying in the wilderness, defending some nebulous “good old days” – while they may have been great for folks like yourself, Chris, they were literally deadly for many others.

      So here we are. A public rally in support of nine innocents, murdered by a violent bigot (a bigot who, let’s recall, proudly waved the flag of the Confederacy), and you’re on about how you’re the one that’s really oppressed? That because it wasn’t done under the aegis of your own personal church, it’s not only an invalid gesture, but in fact part of a shadowy agenda to, one presumes, put all white heterosexual Christians into some sort of Gay Agenda Camp (or “Camp Camp”) where you’ll be forced, Clockwork Orange-style, to watch nothing but RuPaul’s Drag Race until you admit your love for your fabulous rainbow overlords? That because you don’t personally recognize the organizers, you assume it’s secretly an invitation to vandalize and riot and raise hell?

      Get over yourself.

      I’ll be at the vigil tonight. So will my wife and son. And so will our neighbors.

      Oh, and Chris? It isn’t a “flash mob” when the city announces it in advance.

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