This week was the first year anniversary of the alt-right’s violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Over the course of that weekend, attendees and counter-demonstrators engaged in violent confrontations and one alt-right member drove a car into a crowd, killing a woman and injuring dozens more.
The city has subsequently elected a new mayor and lost its city attorney, police chief, and city manager. Meanwhile, many in the city are divided over whether last year’s brazen racist attitudes came from those outside of the city or that only embodying of the town’s racist lineage.
Walter Kim was interviewing for a pastoral job the weekend of the protests and moved down to Charlottesville later that month. The pastor for executive leadership at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Kim’s first year on staff has been radically shaped by their aftermath.
At his own church, “there has been lament. An urge to repent. A galvanizing toward action. A befuddlement about what that action should be. A desire to individually and institutionally engage. But again, a complexity in knowing what exactly does that look like?” said Kim. “It’s not a challenge where we can say, ‘Let’s do something this year and then we can move onto other issues.’”
Responding appropriately is both a sprint and a marathon, Kim says.
“It’s a spring in that there are some pressing issues because of the events of August 12 that require us to engage with a measure of urgency but it’s a marathon in the sense that whatever solutions, engagement, or redemptive transportation that our church will be privileged to be a part of will not happen quickly,” said Kim. “The solution needs to match the longevity of the problem. We’re in it for long-haul in seeking redemption, reconciliation, and justice.”
Kim joined associate digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss the disconnect between how Charlottesville sees itself and last year’s events, how churches across the city came together this past weekend, and we can pray for Charlottesville.