Interfaith Thanksgiving Service
We live in a world that embodies a global economy, global villages and global warming, but the kernel that becomes the stimulant for growth in the life of “global” begins with community. And recently that happened with a special community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service that included two Sun City churches and a synagogue.
The service was held at the Temple Beth Shalom on 101st Avenue and included the neighboring Unity Spiritual Center and First Presbyterian Church of Sun City. The synagogue shares a common parking area with the Unity Spiritual Center. The synagogue sits between the two churches.
The message for the evening, “Let’s not forget why we are here. We are ONE community of faith here to worship ONE God.”
Rabbi Dana Evans Kaplan, along with the Rev. Sharon Connors of the Unity Spiritual Center and the Rev. Thomas Tripp of the First Presbyterian Church, welcomed the more than 100 congregants that embraced members from each religious entity.
The Thanksgiving Service began with the combined choirs and congregation singing “We Gather Together.”
The religious leaders than shared their Thanksgiving thoughts that included gratitude, our neighboring faith communities and our hopes for the future.
Rabbi Kaplan noted that the congregants belonged to a faith community that honored, respected and nurtured one and another, but added they also were bound by a common parking lot that, he said, with a smile on his face, needed to be repaved. That drew laughs from the attendees.
The ministers then shared their messages. The Rev. Connors said how beautiful it was that “we all belong to one God. And, her hope for the future is that “this Thanksgiving Service is a step forward in creating a world that works for everyone.”
The Rev. Tripp added that he hoped for a nation of justice that included caring for one another and “to do what is right and to care about those who are least among us.”
The service then became a traditional Shabbat Evening Service that, for many, was a “first time” experience and included the blending of Hebrew and English. The euphonious voice of the synagogue’s Cantor Baruch Koritan filled the temple, although the words were unknown to many, the melody was melodic and moving.
The Torah was then presented and the rabbi read from it in Hebrew, translating for those unfamiliar with the ancient language.
At the end, it was neighbors touching neighbors as congregants joined hands and sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” with the message “Let peace begin with me.”
For all, it was a cherished night. “Our goal this Thanksgiving and Holiday season,” Unity Board President Diane Fielding reflected after the service, “should be that this message of global understanding starts here with the harmonization of these three faith entities of community understanding, community love and community peace.”