Saturday, February 17, 2007

Faiths unite in prayer for peace

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Two Hindus, a Muslim and a couple of Jews joined a pair of Christians on a stage. Their prayer is that one day that sentence won't sound like the beginning of an offensive joke.
Praying for unity and acceptance, representatives of the major faiths within the Temple community met Feb. 11 at First Presbyterian Church. The occasion was the third annual Interfaith Service of Prayers for Peace, Unity and Justice.
'This is a historic night,' said host pastor the Rev. Margaret Boles. 'Never have we had so many people from so many faiths come together in prayer. It's a beautiful, blessed opportunity.' The Hindus, Kris and Pushpa Gupta, spoke with a heavy accent, and Mrs. Hasan Rajab, the Muslim's wife, came to church with her hair and face masked by a veil. The Jewish man, Loui Dobin, strummed his guitar to a Hebrew chant, while the Christians, Mr. and Mrs. Bowling, used quite voices to pray to God and Jesus.
They all sounded different, and they all looked different.
But they all wanted the same thing - peace.
'You created each of us from male and female,' said Muslim Hasan Rajab in prayer to God. 'You made the nations and tribes, so that they may know and love each other.'
The Jewish Mr. Dobin's wife, Shelia, said a similar prayer.
'Thank you for freedom to speak our minds,' Mrs. Dobin said. 'Give us peace for all to get along. Peace for those fighting and dying. All across the world.'
Mr. Dobin read the Hebrew version of his wife's prayer. Then he sang it while playing his guitar.
The Hindu couple described the Interfaith Service as an opportunity for meditation.
'The focus of the evening is not faith-based,' Mr. Gupta said. 'It is a time for us to be one. It is a time to clear our minds and focus on that. Peace applies to all of us.'
Mr. Bowling said a prayer that recognized everyone's common need to be able to forgive while his wife asked the Lord for strength to face challenges.
'Encourage us all to live together in peace,' Mrs. Bowling said. 'There are people in pain and in crises. Challenge them to change what needs changing and then celebrate those changes.'
After the main speakers said their prayers for peace, the 15 congregants who attended the service were then asked to submit their own prayer requests.
These are some of those prayers that Mrs. Dobin read aloud.
* Pray for an end to violence, so that our children can go to school and grow up safely.
* Give courage, justice and peace to all.
* Please actively listen to your neighbor.
* Lead all nations into peace.
* Put your faith in God, for He shall give us a peace greater than we can imagine.
* Thank you for peace, love and hope. Bless those not here with us.
* Unite us in worship

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