On November 9, a group of students organized and held a march that they titled “Hear, Listen, Believe in BIPOC.” They invited fellow students, alumnus and other individuals outside of the Northwestern community to join in the march.
Around 10:45 a.m., ten students met on the campus green to pray for the protest. Nathan Gale, a pastoral ministry major and high school senior through PSOC (PSEO on Campus), led the event.
Gale discussed the two different events and reflected on the importance of looking to God in prayer. “No matter where you fall ideologically and what you agree with, praying for God’s will to be done can transform [our] heart[s]…God gives us discretion.” He followed by saying that they would be praying for both groups to have discernment and a “heart posture of humility to not claim to know it all.”
The students prayed for the protection of the protesters, the discretion of campus leaders and protection against the devil gaining a foothold in the community at Northwestern. Gale also chose to share passages from 1 Thessalonians 3 and 4, hoping to point students toward Christ as they prayed.
When talking about their prayer goals, Gale said, “I personally don’t agree with [the protest], but in that, I wanted to pray for our leaders to have discretion. Not to just do what I believe because I have what I think are good reasons, or what Payton [Bowdry] believes because he has a community that has truly been hurt and has…that emotional background.”
While Gale originally had scheduled the prayer gathering at the same time as the protest, after hearing that some might think that the gathering was a counter protest, he quickly changed the time. Despite Gale’s efforts to make his intentions for the prayer gathering clear, he still met significant pushback online. Although Gale does not have social media, he received calls throughout the day from friends who observed the comments online.
Gale described comments such as “This is what we have to deal with at UNW,” and “This is the prime example of white fragility and white comfort,” as “disheartening.” He expressed that his prayer gathering was not, in fact, a counter protest. He acknowledged the validity of the protesters and expressed his desire to respect and hear from them.
Jenna Herman, a sophomore Spanish major at UNW, also attended the protest. In a text about the protest she expressed, “The purpose of the event was simply to come together to pray for our community here at UNW (for unity and for us to seek God) and for our broader community as well. Nathan Gale, who orchestrated the event, clearly did so out of a desire to seek God first as UNW students and more importantly as Christians.” She also mentioned, “There was no hidden agenda; the purpose was to seek God and simply pray…It was definitely a very special, God-centered event.”