By now many of you have heard that our Unitarian Universalist congregation in Augusta, Georgia arrived at services last weekend to find that their entrance had been vandalized with hateful, antisemitic, graffiti. Here’s a link to the post on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UUAugusta/photos/a.10154047042934567/10155712848604567/?type=3&theater
As I said in an email to my colleague serving there, an incident such as this reminds us that we are a religious minority – not just here in the South, but nearly everywhere in this country. Yet, the Augusta congregation is taking a unique approach to this vandalism.
As an Augusta news station reported, they are opting to leave the graffiti in place for at least a week. They hope that people will come see it, and that it will foster conversation about acceptance and compassion. In the report, church leaders explicitly invite the vandal(s) to come to a service, so they can experience welcome and learn more about the congregation and Unitarian Universalism.
These leaders are deliberately turning the other cheek as the Rabbi Jesus encouraged those who were wronged to do. They are meeting hate with love and compassion. This demonstrates the very core of our Unitarian Universalist faith, a faith that’s based on a love that is expansive enough to welcome all – and strong enough to withstand such attacks.
Next week many of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. May we breathe into these gatherings, offering love and compassion to all; and, may we remember that there is an all-encompassing love holding us, holding all, that will not let us go.
See you soon!
Rev. Lori Hlaban