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Church Says It Did Not Authorize ‘People’s Commencement’ Protest After Harvard Graduation Walkout | News

Leaders of Harvard-Epworth Church, the site of the “People’s Ceremony” following Harvard’s pro-Palestinian graduation strike, said they were angry and dismayed that the church was became the site of a large-scale demonstration, according to a press release published Friday. email sent to the church congregation.

Mitch Hay and Barb Lemmel, the church’s pastors, wrote in a joint email that they had not given Harvard, outside occupied Palestine, permission to host the protest and felt they had rented the place to a “small group of students”. to honor the 13 undergraduate students who were unable to graduate.

“The protest in the sanctuary was in no way endorsed by Harvard-Epworth,” Hay and Lemmel wrote.

“We are dismayed that the church has become the site of a large student demonstration. We are furious that this overly political message took place in the sanctuary. We are troubled to not be present to provide in-person leadership as we are currently on vacation in Italy,” they added.

At the pro-Palestinian alternative graduation ceremony, HOOP organizer and Harvard Law School graduate Lea H. Kayali told attendees that the church had been “generously gifted” to the ceremony organizers.

But Lemmel wrote in a statement to The Crimson Saturday that church leaders were not informed of the “people’s beginning,” the impending protests or HOOP’s involvement.

“We would not have permitted banners to be hung on the altar or the flags of any nation to be displayed or waved in the sanctuary,” Lemmel wrote. “We are appalled by the lack of awareness and respect for our sacred space. »

More than 1,000 people walked out of Harvard’s commencement ceremony when the university’s interim president, Alan M. Garber, began awarding degrees to graduating students in 1976.

Many of those who participated in the walkout then marched to Harvard-Epworth Church, where they held the alternative graduation event to honor the 13 students prevented from graduating because of their participation in the 20-day camp at Harvard Yard that ended earlier this month.

Lemmel wrote Saturday that the student who rented Harvard-Epworth for the “People’s Day” had rented the space in the past for another group of Harvard students, and the church administration assumed that the student rented it for the same organization.

“Today, however, I received an email from her saying that she did not rent on behalf of this group,” Lemmel wrote.

HOOP wrote in a statement that “the student who made the request to the church made it clear that the space was reserved on behalf of Harvard students and community members who wanted to celebrate the 13 seniors who denied their diplomas and mourned the loss of Palestinians. lives.”

“The church may have assumed that this student was reserving space on behalf of an organization for which it had already reserved space, although the student at no time indicated that this was the case,” added HOOP.

In the email to their congregation, Hay and Lemmel noted that Harvard-Epworth has long served as a forum for “difficult conversations about controversial issues when bound together by mutual respect and listening.” They wrote that “the nationalist tone of this protest was not consistent with our values ​​as a place of worship.

In an emailed statement to The Crimson, HOOP praised the church’s “ground staff” as “incredibly welcoming, warm and supportive.”

Although HOOP wrote in its statement that the number of people who attended the protest’s graduation ceremony “exceeded our expectations,” it did not respond to the Church’s claims that the protest did not was unauthorized and that its leaders had been misled by the organizers.

HOOP wrote that Harvard-Epworth staff “offered us the church space, including the sanctuary, as well as 170 additional chairs for overflow seating.”

“We are grateful to the beautiful faith community of Harvard-Epworth for opening its doors to us, allowing us to celebrate students unjustly punished by the Harvard administration, and for elevating the voices of Palestinians,” added HOOP.

—Editor Elyse C. Goncalves can be reached at elyse.goncalves@thecrimson.com. Follow her on @e1ysegoncalves or on the Threads @elyse.goncalves.

—Editor Matan H. Josephy can be reached at matan.josephy@thecrimson.com. Follow him on @matanjosephy.



News Source : www.thecrimson.com
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