Major faiths gathering to give thanks
by Lori Varosh
SAMMAMISH -- Spurred by the divisive effects of the 9-11 attacks, representatives of four of the world's major religions, along with members of the Snoqualmie Tribe, will participate in a Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Eve gathering Wednesday evening.
People of all faiths -- or no faith -- are welcome to join Muslims, Jews, Baha'is and Christians, as they share their ways of giving thanks to God. Such traditions will be expressed in talks, prayers, scripture readings, music and song.
The gathering will be at 7:30 p.m. at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, 1757 244th Ave. N.E., Sammamish.
For the past 12 years, four Christian churches in Sammamish have had a joint Thanksgiving service, explained the Rev. Fred Jessett, assistant pastor of Good Samaritan. After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, helped breed misunderstanding, especially about Islam, organizers decided to expand the event.
Peace in the world depends on peace among the major religions, Jessett said, and ``there will never be peace among the major religions until we start talking to each other. Some religious traditions see part of their work is to bring something good out of something bad.''
Rather than trying to convert each other, participants plan to ``try to hear each other and understand each other,'' he said.
As people enter the church Wednesday, Snoqualmie Tribe members will do what's called ``smudging,'' wafting smoke from burning sweetgrass, cedar and sage in a traditional benediction, Jessett said.
Welcoming remarks will precede an hour-long program of sharing, in which representatives of each religion will give a 12-minute presentation, followed by a closing prayer, basically a recitation of all the names of God from the four traditions.
Fellowship time will follow, where participants can share refreshments and conversation.
``We're hoping this will be the first of a number of interfaith events that will increase our understanding and knowledge of each other,'' Jessett said. ``In future years, there may be more (religions involved), since a Hindu Temple is coming to Sammamish.''
Jessett hopes all participants will be considerate and thoughtful of each tradition. No one needs to participate in any part that makes them uncomfortable.
Already, organizers of the program have gained some knowledge about each other. They decided not to use the word ``service,'' for instance, because the word means something different to each religion. ```Gathering' works for everybody,'' Jessett said.
An offering of canned goods and money will be taken for the Issaquah and Redmond food banks.
The Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Eve gathering will be at 7:30 p.m. at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, 1757 244th Ave. N.E., Sammamish.
Lori Varosh can be reached at email@example.com or 425-453-4243.ECUMENICAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM CULTURAL RELATIONS EASTSIDE CHURCHES CHRISTIAN LIFE HOLIDAYS CELEBRATIONS