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Fauquier NAACP attends annual interfaith Christmas Tree & Menorah Lighting

Fauquier NAACP members (seated:) Taryn and Dr. Weaver; (standing, left to right:) Henry Lavine, Robin Fields, Scott Christian, Bob Copeland, Debra Copeland and Dr. Ethel Bothuel. (Not pictured: Nic and Anne Burhans.)

On Sunday evening, November 28, ten members of Fauquier NAACP were among those who attended Rectortown United Methodist Church’s annual interfaith event, a Community Tree Lighting and Lighting of a Menorah for Hanukkah. Members of the Mormon faith community were also present.

The service was held in conjunction with the Fauquier Jewish Congregation. It originated a few years ago when Rectortown UMC layreader Larry Scheuble asked the president of Friends of Rectortown and Fauquier NAACP member Henry Lavine to assist him with community involvement at the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Henry replied, "I'd be happy to... would you consider having a Menorah lighting also?"

The Church approved enthusiastically.

At the service Sunday night, Larry Scheuble gave a warm welcome to those present, speaking of the importance of community and unity. Rabbi Bruce Aft delivered a similar warm, heartfelt message--with lots of humor. Despite the cold temperature, Robin Fields sang “God Bless America” like an angel and was later coaxed by Rabbi Aft into joining him in singing “8 Days of Hanukkah,” a hilarious take on the Beatles’ “8 Days a Week”, which had everyone laughing.

Henry Lavine introduces Robin Fields.

Rectortown is one of several charming villages in the northern part of Fauquier County which remain today much as they were centuries ago. Being at a church service outside, at night, in the country in the Christmas season, evoked times past, when the joys and necessities of life were obtained much more locally; a time of “low” technology, when village churches were the center of communities in vital ways, as places not only to worship and receive spiritual sustenance, but to socialize, meet future spouses, share the pleasures of life as well as receive and offer comfort in times of tragedy and sorrow.

Historically, the church has been a safe place for people to gather during times of hardship, as in Black communities during the eras of enslavement, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement. In his message, Rectortown UMC Pastor Steve Weedling said that people need to come together in community today, that “we must show the world that we can get along, even if we’re different from one another.”

Under a cold, clear sky, the tree and the menorah were lit. Robin Fields sang “O Holy Night.”

NAACP president Ellsworth Weaver was asked to give the closing prayer. He blessed us at the end with song. A transcript of his words appears below.

In early November, Dr. Weaver was diagnosed with acute leukemia. Prayers are appreciated.

Closing Prayer given by Dr. Ellsworth Weaver at Rectortown UMC & Fauquier Jewish Congregation Annual Tree & Menorah Lighting, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021

DR. WEAVER: Before I give our closing prayer, I just want to thank all of you for being here because this occasion is one that we should not take lightly for several reasons. First of all, the gathering of mankind in love. Let us take this Spirit with us throughout our lives for all the years that we have left. Because we don’t know what tomorrow might bring. So just be prepared.

They call it the Phase 3 of Salvation. That’s when we prepare to go meet our master. We went through Phase 1 when we accepted Him and believed in Him. We’re in our Phase 2 right now as we prepare. So the prayer I’m going to say is a prayer in preparation for tomorrow.

Let us bow our heads.

Most holy and everlasting Father, we have gathered here on these holy and hallowed grounds tonight to remember the occasion that happened many, many, many, many years ago. We pray that our lives will be influenced and that your light will continue to guide us in this wicked world of sin. Many times, we travel roads that are not in your will, so therefore we ask your forgiveness. As we leave tonight, continue to keep your hand of love around our shoulders. Let our travels be safe.

And most of all, let us remember this night. Let us remember this night as an opportunity of gathering to give praise and thanks. So as I prepare to go back to my seat, I want to sing this song to you. It’s an old song of the church. It goes like this.

God be with you, God be with you.

God be with you ‘til we meet again.

God be with you, God be with you.

God be with you ‘til we meet again.

Go in peace.

View a video of Dr. Weaver giving the closing prayer here.

View a video of Robin Fields singing “God Bless America” here.


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