No matter who they voted for during the presidential election, the Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter wanted to remind a gathering on Saturday night that America belongs to everyone.
The theme of the United States being everyone’s land came up over and over during Wolter’s Post Inaugural Peace Party at the Congregational Church of Patchogue. Wolter said he organized the event to “be a presence of peace and civility and, dare I say, sanity.”
With hundreds of thousands of women marching across America on Saturday and angry protesters demonstrating on the streets in Washington, D.C., on Friday, the presidency of Donald Trump is a touchy and divisive subject, he said. Saturday’s party, Wolter said, was the anti-protest.
Wolter’s church has a history of hosting peace parties immediately after violent situations.
Wolter had a peace party in 2008 soon after the stabbing death of Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue and another one after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut.
“Some of those events are highly attended and some of them we do just because they need to be done,” Wolter said.
Wolter said he anticipated there might be some violence before or after Trump’s inauguration, so Saturday’s event was perfectly timed.
About 50 people held a moment of silence and lit candles as a symbol of peace.
One of the people in attendance was Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini.
“I wanted to come and support what’s happening here today,” Sini said.
During the event, musicians played patriotic music, such as “America the Beautiful” and “This Land Is Your Land.” Miles to Dayton musician Jonathan Preddice played the cello and South African artist Toby Tobias performed “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”
Wolter said it is important for Long Islanders to have a safe place to discuss their differences because church parishioners are dealing with the same political issues as everyone else.
“Churches are just as divided as the citizens are,” he said. “It’s a 50-50 split right down the middle. Every church had its Trump supporters in it.”