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Boston faith community unites in opposition to surge of white supremacy

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Black church leaders aren’t taking the recent surge in white supremacist activity in the city lying down.

“We choose proactivity instead of reactiveness. And so as we began the work today, we galvanized to address these issues,” the Rev. Willie Bodrick II, the senior pastor of Roxbury’s Twelfth Baptist Church, said in the parking lot of his church following a Wednesday meeting of clergy inside.

“This is just the beginning,” he continued, “the table is open for all of us to join hands and stand firm against white supremacy, and stand firm against violence and to put forward the gospel of peace.”

The meeting at the church was an initial effort to align the Boston faith community in efforts to denounce racism and other hatred. This first meeting saw not only clergy from black protestant denominations, but also clergy from other faiths and races, including Father Jack Ahern of St. Gregory Parish in Dorchester.

“Any time any group is assaulted, it’s a responsibility for all of the community,” Ahern told the Herald about why he felt it was important to attend the meeting.

In particular, Brodrick denounced two city appearances by white supremacists that bookended July.

On July 2, roughly 100 members of the group Patriot Front showed up unannounced and marched through the city with flags that included a known fascist symbol.

On July 23, members of the group the Nationalist Social Club, or NSC-131, protested outside a drag queen story hour event at Loring Greenough House in Jamaica Plain. Three people were arrested. Charges against two counter-protesters were dropped.

Those followed earlier events this year including when another group protested outside Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in late January and NSC-131 held “Keep Boston Irish” banners at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in March.

The clergy also spoke ahead of the meeting with Mayor Michelle Wu.

Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden — himself a deacon at Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan — also attended and said that “we cannot meet the horror and hatred of these groups in-kind … if we do so, we will give them exactly what they want.”

Virginia Ward, the dean of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary's Boston Campus, gives a closing prayer for an initial meeting of faith leaders in Boston as, from left, FBI Supervisory Agent Brian LeBlanc, Suffolk County DA Kevin Hayden and Twelfth Baptist Church Sr. Pastor Rev. Willie Bodrick II listen. (Photo by Flint McColgan / Boston Herald)

Photo by Flint McColgan / Boston Herald

Virginia Ward, the dean of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary’s Boston Campus, gives a closing prayer for an initial meeting of faith leaders in Boston as, from left, FBI Supervisory Agent Brian LeBlanc, Suffolk County DA Kevin Hayden and Twelfth Baptist Church Sr. Pastor Rev. Willie Bodrick II listen. (Photo by Flint McColgan / Boston Herald)

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