Elgin's faithful give thanks Interfaith service a show of unity
Prayers and readings from the Quran, Baha'I Sacred Writings and Christian scriptures were read during the service at First Congregational Church on East Chicago Street. The choir from Second Baptist Church led the crowd in both religious and patriotic songs.
Elgin Mayor Ed Schock issued a proclamation during the service recognizing Tuesday as a "day for all people to reflect on shared values and dreams."
The Rev. Don Shank, pastor at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, discussed the purpose of bringing people of so many different faiths together for the Thanksgiving service.
"Religious intolerance has been a blight on our human civilization," Shank said. "We call our God by many names, but we all believe God calls us together as brothers and sisters to live in peace."
Those in the audience at Tuesday's gathering offered money to benefit Public Action to Deliver Shelter of Elgin, which offers overnight sleeping space for the homeless in the winter months.
Remembering the less fortunate and being thankful for the gifts people do have is what Thanksgiving is all about in any faith, said Dr. Syed Anwar of the Islamic Community Center in Elgin.
"In the Muslim perspective, you give thanks every day," Anwar said in his address at Tuesday's gathering.
Anwar also said Muslims must always appreciate the fact that their Islamic religion is so closely linked with peace.
"Throughout history, religion has been abused and misunderstood - some of the people use it as a source of power and dominance," he said. "In the name of religion, many unjust wars have been fought, but there is no place for prejudice ... under Islam."
Anwar, who was born in India, is a Board certified psychiatrist who has lived in Elgin for the past 13 years. He is on the board of directors at the Islamic Community Center; and is the assistant medical director at Elgin Mental Health Center and medical director for the psychiatric unit at Provena St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin.
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