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Cornelius News

Hundreds attend prayer service on Davidson Green

Sherry Washam helped people sign up for small diverse groups​ that will encourage discussion across the community

​In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., and vandalism at the Confederate Soldiers Monument in Cornelius, ​hundreds of people attended ​a prayer vigil Aug. 23 on the Davidson Village Green.

​It was a time for prayer, grieving​ ​and ​looking for solutions to strife that should have ended years ago. Jews and Christians participated as Davidson Police maintained a presence around the perimeter.​

​At the end of the service, attendees signed up to form small but diverse discussion groups ​to promote discussion and relationships across the community.  The Public Religion Research Institute, a non-partisan research institute that focuses on the intersection of religion, culture and public policy, says 75 percent of white Americans have an entirely white network of people with whom they discuss important matters. Only 15 percent report having a more racially mixed social network

The​ debate over​ ​Civil War ​statues came home to roost when the Confederate Soldiers Monument on Zion Avenue was ​​vandalized within 24 hours of the violence in Charlottesville.

The monument association did not return ​a ​phone call from Cornelius Today.

But ​North Carolina—and much of the South—is once again engaged in a national discussion on Confederate monuments and what they mean today. The monument in Cornelius is dedicated to soldiers who died, not a general.

It also sits on private property.

Gov. Roy Cooper said the North Carolina legislature must repeal a 2015 law that prevents removal or relocation of monuments on public property. Cities, counties and the state must make these decisions, he said.

“I’ve asked the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to determine the cost and logistics of removing Confederate monuments from state property as well as alternatives for their placement at museums or historical sites where they can be studied in context,” Cooper said.

There are around 120 Confederate monuments around the state.

Making the distinction between a monument for the local soldiers who died and Confederate generals who led the War Between the States may be easier for white Americans than it is for African-Americans who are the descendants of slaves.

Then, too, erasing history does not escape history.

Cooper said: “Our history must tell the full story, including the subjugation of humans created in God’s image to provide the back-breaking labor that drove the South’s agrarian economy.”

Will monuments on government-controlled property be moved? It’s highly unlikely: Cooper is a Democrat and Republicans have a super-majority in the legislature.

Meanwhile, we are in the unique position of having a monument erected on private property in honor of the sons of town folk who died in a war they did not start.

Mayor ​Pro Tem Woody Washam attended the prayer vigil​ as well as Mayor John Woods from Davidson.​

The vigil was organized by Rev. Alexis Coleman, the missions pastor at Davidson United Methodist Church, and Rev. Joel Simpson, a​n associate​ minister at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church.

“Charlottesville weighs heavy on my heart and the hearts of many people I talk with,” Simpson said.

“This is not just about Charlottesville, it is about all communities…and how do we lament together about whats going on in our country and communities,” Coleman said. “We all bear some of the responsibilities of where we stand in our communities today.”

People who attended the vigil were asked to participate in small group discussions that will emphasize diversity. For more information, contact Rev. Joel Simpson of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church by email at Jsimpson@mtzionumc.net