Faithful find unity in shattered world
By TOM HEINEN
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: Sept. 12, 2001
Drawn by a common quest for healing, justice and peace, local leaders
of many of the world's great religious traditions shared prayers
Wednesday with about 275 people during a noon interfaith service in
Milwaukee's Central United Methodist Church.
Nineteen speakers expressed themselves in different ways, and sometimes
in different languages.
But as the words resonated within the concrete and wood sanctuary, they
pulled the equally diverse crowd closer together with the hope that a
better America will emerge from the nightmare of terrorist attack.
"It's been very dramatic and very uplifting, because this is the most
(diverse) interfaith gathering we've ever had," the Rev. Thelma Smith,
chairwoman of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee and district
superintendent for the United Methodist Church, said in an interview.
"And so, I see us being able to work in community and know that we are part
of a larger fabric and that God has created us all."
Bishop Peter Rogness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Greater
Milwaukee Synod set a tone with a biblical quotation: Let us love one
another because love is from God.
"Our theologies and our traditions are many, and our religious writings are
varied, but the common thread that runs through them all is the sublime
command that we have regarding care for one another in the human family,"
Other speakers were mainline Christians, Jews, Muslims, a Sikh, a Buddhist,
a Baha'i, a Hindu and a Quaker. Examples:
Bishop Medardo Gomez, who was visiting from the Lutheran Synod of El
Salvador - "We are united in your pain," he said.
Rabbi Dena Feingold of Kenosha, president of the Wisconsin Council
of Rabbis and sister of U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold - "At a time of pain, and
terror, and unanswered questions, one thing that unites all of us, of all
faiths, is a prayer for peace," she said as she incorporated a traditional
Jewish prayer in her comments.
"Grant us peace, your most precious gift, oh eternal source of peace. And
give us the will to proclaim its message to all the peoples of the Earth.
Bless our country, that it may always be a stronghold of peace and its
advocate among the nations. . . . "
Ahmed Quereshi, an officer of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee -
"The Islamic Society of Milwaukee and all major Muslim organizations in this
country have completely and utterly condemned the barbaric, heinous acts of
yesterday. . . .
"In our holy Qur'an, God tells us that the slaying of one innocent person
is as though one slew all of humanity, and the saving of one innocent
person is as if one saved all of humanity. I would like to offer a solemn
prayer for the victims, their families, their communities and the country."
The Rev. Archie Ivy of Milwaukee's New Hope Baptist Church,
president of Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope - "Why do
bad things happen to good people? One thing it has done is brought us
together. . . . Maybe God is trying to bring us together as a true
United States of America."
The Rev. Tonen O'Connor of the Milwaukee Zen Center - "The Buddha
perceived, not that we could be one, but that we are one. In
our essence, we are all the same, despite our differences in appearance,
race, age, condition, ideology. The Buddha also knew that to live this
oneness would take great compassion. So this is a Buddhist chant for a
compassionate heart in the face of hatred and death."
©Copyright 2001, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel