Lutheran clergy, others to hold prayer service, silent protest against Trump

Published 12:06 am Monday, March 14, 2016

A group of North Carolina Lutherans, including some from Rowan County, planned to take part in a silent protest against Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign during the candidate’s planned appearance today at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory.

The university said last week that it had invited all major candidates to speak on the campus. Trump was scheduled to speak at 10 a.m. at the P.E. Monroe Auditorium, with doors to the campaign event opening at 7 a.m.

Under the guidance of the N.C. Synod bishop, the Rev. Dr. Timothy Marcus Smith, Lutherans from around the state planned to gather for a 9 a.m. prayer service at Grace Chapel on the university campus. The group then planned to go to the auditorium area and stage a silent protest outside the venue.

According to Smith, in light of recent violence and disruptions at other Trump rallies, he had chosen to not attend the Trump rally itself and was not encouraging others to protest inside the auditorium.

He said via Facebook instead of going as a “heckler or protester” he’d rather see parishioners who are “interested in joining us in lifting up an alternative platform around themes (signs) of Love, Justice, Welcome and Peace” and display those signs as close to the auditorium as possible.

“I plan to be there, clerical collar and bishop’s cross on, to protest NOT the fact that he’s there but his platform that would deny refugees access, that would invoke violence at every turn, and that would stir up bigotry and hatred,” Smith said in his written statement.

Smith said the idea is to pray, sing, and hold signs proclaiming what they stand for — “do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God” — rather than what they are against.

Afterward, a Service of Healing was scheduled at Grace Chapel from 11:30 a.m.-noon.

A statement from Lenoir-Rhyne President Wayne B. Powell said the service was open “to all people who see the diversity of God’s world as a point of celebration, without regard to religious background, ethnicity, national origin, political association, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender, or any other classification.”

Lenoir-Rhyne was founded by and is affiliated with the N.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.