All religions to share hopes for peace
Bloomfield Hills church to host reconciliation
BY MEI-LING HOPGOOD
They will gather at Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills on Saturday night: Catholics, Baptists, Episcopalians and other Protestants, Jews and Muslims, Bahai, New Age and perhaps a few Hindu followers.
They will begin with their traditions: an Islamic call to prayer, a Hebrew call to worship, a Christian call to service and many others. Then everyone will repent for past religious persecution and war and pray for peace.
Welcome to the World Sabbath of Religious Reconciliation, a service in which all faiths will share an "interfaith holy day," organizers say. With the theme of reconciliation permeating many religions this year, some local people hope the idea will spread worldwide.
"This will be first time in my life to experience various religions coming together and sharing love," said Alberta Blackburn, who attends Greater New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit.
"This is, to me, a new wind blowing in various religions."
The Rev. Rod Reinhart, interim pastor at Trinity Episcopal Church in Farmington Hills, came up with the idea. He wanted to find a way to get people thinking about and protesting wars and persecution in the name of religion. He came up with the idea of a service in which all faiths can worship together. He chose the fourth Saturday in January because it was close to the New Year and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Plus, the service will be after sundown -- the end of the Jewish sabbath, just before the Christian holy day and during the national week of Christian Unity.
The service will start at 7 p.m. The congregation will enter through the Great West door, above which the Christian cross, the prayer wheel of Buddha, the Star of David, the Native American supreme spirit, the Chinese yin and yang and the crescent and star of Islam are engraved.
The rule is: If you will be offended by someone else's expression of faith, don't come.
"It's unlike Thanksgiving services, when you can't say this and can't say that so no one will be offended. We're reversing that," said the Rev. Edward Mullins, organizer and pastor at Christ Church Cranbrook.
"We found it appalling to us that people would be offended by people's expression of faith. If a Muslim wants to chant or mention Allah or if a Jew wants to bring a Star of David or the Torah, they are welcome to do so. If a Christian wants to mention Jesus or carry a cross, they are welcome to do so."
Expect to get a sample of everything. Among the participants are the Episcopal bishop of Michigan, Catholic deacons, rabbis and members of the Islamic House of Wisdom and the Littlefield Presbyterian Church in Dearborn. An Oakland County woman's drumming group is expected to perform, and choirs from Greater New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church and Christ Church Cranbrook will sing.
Local jazz musician and poet Ann Holdreith will lead a meditation on the ancient Sanskrit word "Om," which means peace.
Local people who have faced religious persecution will share their stories: a Holocaust survivor, a Christian from Sudan, American Muslims. The Rev. Kenneth James Flowers, senior pastor at Greater New Mt. Moriah, will give a speech about unity.
Finally, religious leaders will sign a document committing themselves to work for peace and justice. Then everyone will mingle and eat cookies together.
After Saturday's service -- which could attract anywhere from 50 to 1,000 people -- Reinhart will continue trying to spread the word. Saturday's service is the first step, Reinhart said. "Religious persecution is a real reality in this country, and we need to create a situation where people of all faiths will get together and can say we will not allow this around the world. And we will not allow this in our own backyard."
MEI-LING HOPGOOD can be reached at 248-586-2621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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