St. Luke’s holds service in response to Virginia violence
DARIEN — Amid the crowd of roughly 70 gathered on the front lawn of St. Luke’s Church on Post Road Monday night, the bright orange t-shirt worn by Joseph Young offered the most explanation for the quickly conceived service.
Across Young’s chest was the word “Virginia,” and just below were the crossed swords comprising the logo of Young’s alma mater, University of Virginia Cavaliers, whose city, Charlottesville, was the site of clashes between white nationalists protesters and counter-protestors, resulting in three deaths on Aug. 12.
“What happened this weekend doesn’t represent how nice of a place it is,” said Young, 53 of Stamford, whose God-daughter is currently a fourth-year student at the prestigious university. “With her a capella group she’s sung on those steps where you saw the people with the tiki torches.”
Seeing the events of the weekend play out on television, Young, like many in the community, felt compelled to act in some way. Rev. David Anderson, the rector at St. Luke’s, said to the crowd on Monday that they day prior at church, a discussion around Charlottesville came up.
“The conversation came up about what we could do to put action to our prayers,” Anderson said at the opening of the Monday service. Ultimately, Deacon intern Don Burr suggested via email Sunday afternoon that a service be organized.
“In less than a day we had a service,” Anderson said.
The guests who gathered on short notice included guest speaker Rev. George Kovoor — an Indian-born pastor and academic who, in his time in the United Kingdom, was a chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II, and moved to the United States to work as a fellow at Yale University and to become rector of St. Paul’s Church in Darien.
In his speech, Kovoor stressed the importance of multiculturalism in response to the racial violence in Virginia, reminding visitors to the church from “Aryan Darien,” as he called it, that “The face of a global Christian is not white.”
“At the heart of our inability to engage with difference is ignorance, which is presumptive fear. Fear paralyzes people,” Kovoor said.
“We need to do much more than sit in our own holy little huddles,” Kovoor said, pointing out that the crowd was full of seemingly like-minded members of the church, and urging those in attendance to continue to the conversation of race with those outside of St. Luke’s.
Kovoor also challenged the perception of Heaven held by many Western Christians, reminding the crowd that Heaven is presumably a multilingual, multicultural place.
“The vision of God for a civil and sane society is that there is generosity and hospitality at the very heart of God’s kingdom. All are welcome, all are invited, all are included,” Kovoor said.