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On Sunday, August 27, the day before CDSP begins its fall semester, white nationalists intend to hold a rally in downtown Berkeley, California, where the seminary is located. Although the campus is far removed from the park where racist groups are planning to gather, students, faculty, and campus community members are planning to join other people of faith in protesting the display of bigotry and hatred. 

The Rev. Andrew Hybl ’12, CDSP’s new dean of students, says that the seminary will keep its chapel open on Sunday from 12 pm-4 pm for prayer and reflection. He is also working with the Rev. Phil Brochard, rector of All Souls Episcopal Parish in Berkeley, to organize those who want to process downtown to the site of the rally. Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California will help lead the procession.

Participants in the procession can travel with the group as far as the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, about a mile from campus, and then stay there in designated sanctuary space, return home or process to the park where the white nationalists are planning to rally, says Hybl.

On Friday from 2-5 pm at CDSP’s Denniston Commons, Janet Chisholm, a member of All Souls, will lead a workshop in nonviolent resistance that can help people prepare to resist the rally.

“Janet will help us learn centering practices and de-escalation skills that are useful in everyday life as well as in group protests,” says Hybl. “We want to deepen our understanding and commitment to nonviolence as practiced by Jesus and other teachers, and we want to offer students, staff, and faculty an opportunity for discernment about their participation in Sunday’s events.”

Some students will feel most comfortable spending the afternoon in the chapel, some will prefer to be at home, and others will join the faith community response downtown, he says. “I’ve told students that all of us at CDSP will support their decisions about what is best and most faithful for them.”

“This is a dark time in our country, and a sobering way to begin the academic year,” wrote Hybl in a letter to students last week. “Yet, this is the current state of affairs in our world. I am grateful that as Christians, we can stand together to resist the evil that confronts us and walk instead in the light of Christ.”