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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Religious leaders unite to march for peace, love

<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-8863393f-db9d-7f00-73f8-2f1362f5c818"><span>Pastor Chad Fair, of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, and Pastor Terrance Jacob, of University Evangelical Lutheran Church, hold signs that read, “Love not hate.” The pastors led a march on West University Avenue on Sunday morning.</span></span></p>

Pastor Chad Fair, of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, and Pastor Terrance Jacob, of University Evangelical Lutheran Church, hold signs that read, “Love not hate.” The pastors led a march on West University Avenue on Sunday morning.

Pastor Chad Fair drove to church Sunday in the rain. As he got ready for service, the rain kept falling.

Yet as soon as he and 30 other members stepped out onto West University Avenue to march down the street spreading a message of peace and unity, the rain stopped.

“That’s a God moment,” Fair said.

The group, made up of members from the congregations of University Evangelical Lutheran Church, located at 1826 W. University Ave., and Gethsemane Lutheran Church, located at 4011 NW 34th St., marched with signs that read, “love not hate” at 11:45 a.m. from University Evangelical Lutheran Church to the corner of West University Avenue and Southwest 13th Street.

The march was part of a national movement of Lutheran churches to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, when Martin Luther accused the Roman Catholic Church of corruption and began his own church. The event was originally scheduled for Sept. 12 but was postponed because of Hurricane Irma.

Fair, of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, and Pastor Terrance Jacob, of University Evangelical Lutheran Church, led the march. Jacob said he has seen inequality between East and West Gainesville since he moved to the city four months ago.

“When I preach that, no one argues,” he said.

After UF announced that Richard Spencer, a white supremacist, would possibly come to speak on campus in October, Fair and Jacob decided the theme of their event should focus on encouraging love.

“‘Love not hate’ is relevant to us here in Gainesville,” Jacob said.

George Chappelle, 77, carried a sign and wore a yellow shirt that said, “God’s work. Our hands.” He said he was satisfied after the march from the positive response he got from passersby and cars.

“One man smiled and he just said, ‘march on,’” Chappelle said.

He said he is welcoming of every visitor he meets as a volunteer at Morningside Nature Center.

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“Love’s a lot better than hate,” Chappelle said. “If you open with love, it works so much better.”

However, Fair said he doesn’t believe the march had a lasting effect on the community.

“I would be naive to think the world is a better place but we can start that discussion and keep continuing the discussion,” Fair said.

After the march, members gathered in the church to say grace before a potluck luncheon.

“People lower their defences when you give them a plate of food,” he said. “Food’s always a unifier.”

Jacob devoured every last crumb of three slices of apple cinnamon pie as he reflected on working together toward a common goal.

“We were able to come together as two different churches,” he said. “That’s a big thing.”

Pastor Chad Fair, of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, and Pastor Terrance Jacob, of University Evangelical Lutheran Church, hold signs that read, “Love not hate.” The pastors led a march on West University Avenue on Sunday morning.

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