First off, I want to thank Fr. Merrow for supporting and encouraging clergy to attend yesterday’s vigil near St. John’s Episcopal Church, at Lafayette Square.
Mother Sara and her husband David and I drove in with The Rev. Beth Franklin, rector of St. Michael’s
, and were joined later by friends from Virginia Theological Seminary. We ran into several other people we knew and saw Randy Hollerith
, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, kneeling next to us at one point. The vigil was not a vigil really. Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde
was there, and the cameras were there, but there was no amplification, no speakers or mics, and there was a lot of confusion. At one point we all kneeled—hundreds, maybe a thousand people—but couldn’t hear anything. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser
showed up, nearly ran us over, and made a statement we couldn’t hear in front of some cameras and quickly left. There were no speeches, and no real organization, which seemed almost poignant.
There was, however, a strong sense of solidarity and purpose, and the crowd in our block (there were multiple crowds of people downtown) was full of clergy and church people, all gathered as close to St John’s as we could get. I met up with St. Mary’s parishioner Merrill Hoopengardner and her daughter Eleanore at one point and we walked together for a while. The Department of Homeland Security and National Guard were everywhere, but the crowd was peaceful. Walking down the streets of a normally very busy city was bizarre like we were in a movie that doesn’t end well. Or like something so important was happening that the normal rules of living no longer applied. Which felt appropriate. There was a sense of excitement and resolve and urgency, but also of waiting. We were all there, and all waiting. A holy waiting, almost like the waving handmade signs were palms and Christ was just around the corner.
We then met up with a larger crowd, thousands of people, and followed along with them for a while, walking through the streets of what seemed like a deserted city. They held signs and we all chanted chants about justice and peace. We put the names of black men and women murdered by police into our mouths and shouted them out to the heavens.
After about two hours of standing and waiting and sweating and walking, we were tired out and eventually made our way to the car and headed home.
–As witnessed by The Rev. Deacon Pete Nunnally.