Several white supremacist groups will meet in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro this weekend, and the two communities have been very much on my mind in recent days.
A strong argument can be made for simply ignoring those racist gatherings and depriving them of the oxygen of public attention, thus turning them into non-events.
An equally strong argument can be made for people to show up and declare loud and clear that racism is not acceptable.
Personally, I don't see how yelling across the street at a group of Nazis does much more than draw attention to them, but I believe it is important to show up in support of a different vision for our life together, one that is not merely an angry reaction to a hateful ideology, but an affirmation of God's beloved community.
Here are some ways to participate in that kind of affirmation:
On Friday, October 27, the Bedford County MInisterial Accociation is hosting a prayer service at First United Methodist Church, 122 Public Square N, Shelbyville, TN 37160.
On Saturday, October 28, Shelbyville Loves is hosting an alternative event at Purdy Court Park, Shelbyville, TN 37160, beginning at 8:30am (until about 3pm); this family friendly cook-out is a celebration of community, about a mile from the designated protest sites. For more details see https://www.facebook.com/events/300483720434126/
For other details, including traffic and parking information, see local press http://www.t-g.com/story/2455017.html
In Murfreesboro, people will gather beginning at 11am for a safety training at Barfield Crescent Park, 697 Veterans Pkwy, Murfreesboro, TN 37128, pavillion 6 and 7. Then those who wish will go on a peace march, while a second group stays at the park, again to celebrate and affirm community. From 4-6pm, there will be speakers, music, pizza, etc.; there are also plans for some volunteers to help with clean up in town.
For more details see https://www.facebook.com/events/134541383959860/
I will be in Shelbyville on Friday and Saturday to affirm the vision of the beloved community, and I plan to go to Murfreesboro as well.