Prayer for the peace of Charlottesville

Prayer for the peace of Charlottesville

I offer this prayer for personal or congregational use in the aftermath of the traumatic violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 11 and 12, 2017.*

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

  • We lament the horror of hate that exploded in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend.
  • We decry the flagrant parading of white supremacists, paramilitary assault weapons, Nazi insignia, Confederate flags and anti-Semitic chants. 
  • We grieve for all those targeted by vile speech, vicious attacks and rabid racism.
  • We weep for the people of Charlottesville described in the local newspaper’s editorial**: “We are a community in grief. We are a community in shock. And we are a community in righteous anger over unrighteous actions.”

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

  • We confess that those of us who are white have overlooked, ignored or been ignorant of the ways we have benefited from the systemic oppression and marginalization of people of color, immigrants, Muslims, Jews and others whom we fear.
  • We confess that we are complicit in acts of violence when we devalue, despise and discriminate against persons whom we perceive as threatening our identity, way of life and cherished beliefs.
  • We confess that we are too often slow to act in the face of white supremacy that is ingrained in our businesses, institutions, neighborhoods and families.
  • We confess that we let fear, pride and ignorance prevent us from doing all we can to live into the beauty, goodness and shalom that God intends for all people.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

  • We give thanks for all those who courageously showed up to nonviolently resist racist bigotry, and especially for clergy and faith leaders who linked arms in prayer and solidarity to boldly offer encouragement and compassion in the name of Christ.
  • We give thanks for Charlottesville Mennonite Church (CMC) and for Roy and Maren Hange, co-pastors and AMBS grads, for their witness on multiple fronts to what is acclaimed in the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective: “We believe that peace is the will of God. God created the world in peace, and God's peace is most fully revealed in Jesus Christ, who is our peace and the peace of the whole world. Led by the Holy Spirit, we follow Christ in the way of peace, doing justice, bringing reconciliation and practicing nonresistance, even in the face of violence and warfare.”
  • We give thanks that there were not even more horrific acts of violence, which seemed likely from news analyses ahead of the protests, given that many came heavily armed.
  • We give thanks for a local Mennonite pastor’s public advocacy on NewsRadio WINA for a “revolution of reconciliation” in Charlottesville after the violence of the weekend:

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us courage.

  • Grant us courage to ask: Where does it hurt? How can we be present to each other’s grief, fear and despair while holding one another within the healing mercies of the Spirit?
  • Grant us courage to “sing the Lord’s song” in this strange land and passionately recount our anchoring faith stories in these profoundly disorienting times.
  • Grant us courage to root out and face down the unleashed forces of hatred in Charlottesville and in our own communities with strong and unshakeable love, even for enemies, because “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1 John 4:15).

Lord God, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

* Roy and Maren Hange are co-pastors of Charlottesville Mennonite Church and AMBS alumni. Their pastoral wisdom and analysis of the reality on the ground in Charlottesville are reflected in this prayer.

** Opinion/editorial: "Community faces shock, grief over imposed violence," in The Daily Progress, Aug. 12, 2017.

For more perspectives from Mennonites in connection with the events in Charlottesville, as well as a list of resources for undoing racism and oppression, see "Charlottesville renews call to resist white supremacy in community, church" (website of The Mennonite, Aug. 14, 2017). Interviewed for the article were AMBS alumna Sarah Thompson (MDiv 2011) and Janie Beck Kreider (MDiv 2013) as well as Regina Shands Stoltzfus, who has served AMBS as an adjunct faculty member and staff member.


On Aug. 12, a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer (pictured) and injuring 19 others. (Photo provided by Dori Zook, reporter for NewsRadio WINA of Charlottesville and a participant at CMC)