Tri-faith Thanksgiving service draws 70 to Martinez church

Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 10:23 PM
Last updated 10:38 PM
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Participants in a tri-faith Thanksgiving service were greeted not once, but three times, upon entering Church of Our Savior on Monday night.

Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders each welcomed the more than 70 worshippers who attended the annual gathering, held this year at the Episcopal church in Martinez.

“This is an important service,” said the Rev. John West, the rector of Church of Our Savior. “This is an important service because it brings us together.”

Each leader read from his holy scriptures and thanked God for his goodness in an hour-long service of prayer and song as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.

It was West’s first interfaith service. The Augusta native moved back to the area last summer after serving a church in Richmond, Va., for several years.

“This is the first time I’ve ever done a service like this and, I have to tell you, it was awesome,” West said. “To come together and share a service, to share a feast as a community, is really something special.”

The location of the service rotates each year between the church, Congregation Children of Israel and the Islamic Society of Augusta.

It was those three congregations that gathered 10 years ago for the first tri-faith service of Thanksgiving, said Valerie Haney, a longtime member of Church of Our Savior.

“It was Thanksgiving 2001, just after Sept. 11,” she said. “There was a need to heal this community.”

Haney has attended every service since.

Though the program changes each year and attendance grows and wanes, the faith leaders said the heart of the service remains unchanged.

“We have God in common,” West said.

The service, as Imam Majed Sabke added, is an opportunity to worship God “shoulder to shoulder” with others in the community.

Rabbi Robert Klensin of Congregation Children of Israel prayed – in Hebrew and English – thanking God for his provision.

“Each day of our lives we have so much to be thankful for,” he said. “Help us to be especially thankful that we live in this country that allows us to practice our own religions.”

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howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 11/15/11 - 08:22 am
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"We have God in common."

"We have God in common." Really? Rector West, an Episcopalian worships Jesus Christ as God. In contrast, the Imam says Christ was only a prophet, and is NOT God. Only Allah is God. To the Imam, the idea of Christ being God incarnate (the foundational truth of Christianity) is a horrible blasphemy. Although the rector and the rabbi both share some of the same scriptures, again, their view of Jesus Christ is quite at odds.

What these folks have in common is a desire to live together in peace. That is a noble thing, and is to sought. But, do they have God in common? Absolutely no way. Rector West should know better. He's more concerned about political correctness than the truth.

Robertson
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Robertson 11/15/11 - 09:29 am
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You are correct. But why not

You are correct. But why not focus on what unites us, rather on what divides us?

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 11/15/11 - 09:58 am
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Agreed. But, here's the

Agreed. But, here's the flipside: Why focus on unity at all costs, such that the truth is discarded and made irrelevant? Maybe the article should had mentioned the fundamental, irreconcilable differences between these faiths, but how these folks were coming together anyway? That's a great story.

I think you need a balance that reflects the truth, yet still promotes thankfulness. The words of the rector, as reported, were unbalanced, and it came across that truth was not important. Just unity at all costs. That's not the way it should be. The God of Christianity is vastly different from the God of Islam. You can't just ignore the facts. Truth, by its nature, is often very divisive. If you don't care about truth (which is very common in our modern culture), then we can all get together and sing Kumbayah. If truth does matters, then it needs to be stated. That's what is missing in the words of the rector, as reported.

Keep it balanced and truthful, and not slanted. If articles do that, then more power to them.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 11/15/11 - 10:06 am
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As an aside, in the picture

As an aside, in the picture above you can see crosses on the wall in the worship center. Muslims deny that Jesus was ever crucified (despite the historical evidence supporting that fact). So, the evidence for the important contradictions between these faiths is all around. I guess you could just overlook the truth, hold hands, etc. But in the end, the differences still exist and the faiths are no closer than they were.

Latino
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Latino 11/15/11 - 12:15 pm
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I hope you people know this

I hope you people know this is offensive to God. It is called Chrislam. After the AntiChrist appears he will setup a one world religion, this is the beginning stages of it. This will happen after the rapture of course. How can Christians and Muslims worship together? You cannot worship together if you believe in 2 different Gods.
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

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