Bergen prayer service will focus on Middle East
Sunday, October 15, 2000
By CHARLES AUSTIN
An interfaith service Monday will give people who may be on opposite sides of the Middle East debate a chance to offer joint prayers that the troubled region may find peace.
The service will take place on the steps of the Bergen County Courthouse beginning at 7:30 p.m., said the Rev. Stephen Giordano, head of the Bergen County Council of Churches, one of the sponsors of the event.
The prayer service is also sponsored by the Interfaith Brotherhood and Sisterhood Committee, a county group that has been encouraging cooperation and friendship between religions for several years.
"We agreed unanimously that we should not be silent in the face of escalating tension in the Middle East," Giordano said at a recent meeting.
He said that despite differences of opinion on what the "right solution" might be, "we thought it important that we have an opportunity to come together across faith boundaries to offer prayers for peace in the Middle East."
Giordano, pastor of Clinton Avenue Reformed Church in Bergenfield, said that the interfaith group was aware that "some of the people in this prayer vigil may -- on the day before or the day after -- be involved in protests or support rallies" with partisan views on Middle East questions.
"We have no problem with that as long as the protests are not accompanied with violence," he said. "Anyone involved in violence is not being true to the teachings of their faith."
At the prayer service, he said, people from Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Bahai, and Hindu communities will be asked to "offer a prayer from within their tradition, focused on asking God to bring peace to the Middle East."
Also scheduled for Monday is a community gathering in support of Middle East peace at 7:30 p.m. at the Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes.
Rabbi Elyse Frishman of the Barnert Temple, Rabbi Rachel Rembrandt of Beth Chaverim in Mahwah, and others will lead the congregation in prayer and song.
"We are heartsick over the violence and loss of life in Israel," said Frishman, who called Monday's event "not a political rally, but a spiritual gathering of community."
About 500 people from several congregations in northwest Bergen County are expected to attend.
©Copyright 2000, Bergen Record Corp.