Portland church leaders hold interfaith service in response to C - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland church leaders hold interfaith service in response to Charlottesville

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Faith leaders held a service in northeast Portland Thursday evening in response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.

Organizers started planning for the event being held at the Augustana Lutheran Church Monday evening, days before tragedy struck again early Thursday with the attack in Barcelona.

Reverend Mark Knutson is the pastor at the church, and he told FOX 12 he has family that just left Barcelona two days ago.

While he said they are thinking about those suffering in Spain, Thursday night’s service was focused on the climate here at home and what he describes as the lack of response from the nation’s leaders when it comes to racism and hate.

The theme of the night was “United in Love to Overcome Hate,” based on Martin Luther King’s principals for non-violent direct action. Knutson said people often think of love as a passive thing but countered that thought by saying it’s really about stepping out spiritually, emotionally and socially to transform society.

"After 9/11 we came together even stronger, so we do this a lot, it's not always in the media, not in the news," said Knutson. We must come together and fight back, until it stops."

Under one roof, people came together to sing and pray for lives lost and for those who've gone down a different path.  Though ceremonies like this last just a few hours, the culture and faith they share can have a lasting impact.

“We have an opportunity in this nation to weave a community of many cultures and gifts that is so exciting. Lets claim it, and faith communities believe in claiming that," said Knutson.

Knutson explained that there are people in his congregation from 21 countries, adding that dehumanizing anyone isn’t right.

“We’re living in a country right now that is so wonderfully diverse, and if we claim that we have a future with real possibilities,” he said. “To divide people out of hate is not who we are, and it cannot be who we are.”

The interfaith service started at 7 p.m., ending in a candlelight vigil out on the lawn around 8:30 p.m.

“Candlelights are far different than torches. Candlelights are about hope, about love, about embracing," Knutson said.

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