The summer of 2015 has been filled with dramatic and memorable events, both nationally and internationally, but one of the most important ones for me was when family members of those who were slain at Emanuel AME church in Charleston were allowed into a courtroom to address the killer. Alana Simmons, whose grandfather, Daniel Simmons, died in June’s deadly shooting, was one of those who stood before Dylan Roof to offer words of grace and forgiveness. At the end of her remarks, she said: “My grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, but hate won’t win.”

Those three little words, “hate won’t win”, have grown into a movement that is gaining momentum across the United States. At the most basic level, it is inspired by Simmons challenge to all of us to show kindness to others in order to prove that hate won’t win. Here in Tacoma, we have the privilege of hosting the first Hate Won’t Win national event on Sunday, August 2nd from 3-5pm. Alana Simmons will be with us to share her story and her challenge, and I am hoping that you can join us, too! We will be gathering at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

In our own lives of faith, I hope and pray that we can show the same kind of grace and forgiveness that flowed from the families of the Charleston victims. Alana Simmons knew that they each had the chance to speak words of judgment and condemnation to Dylan Roof, but the example of their own family members kept them from doing that. “We know our relatives and our loved ones, and they wouldn’t have wanted that,” Simmons explained. “They spoke love, they preached love and they lived in love.”

Pastor Jan Ruud

The picture is of Alana Simmons (second from right) with other leaders from the #HateWontWin campaign.