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The Promise of Communal Peace: Church Hosts Interfaith Evening in the Tabernacle

The scene Sunday night, March 8, 2020, inside the Tabernacle on Temple Square featured a diverse sampling of the religious world all in one place. Muslims, Jews, a Native American spiritual leader and healer, Presbyterians, Buddhists, Baha’i, Sikhs, Catholics, Hindus and Latter-day Saints came together to share music, dance and scripture for the annual interfaith concert (now in its 18th year) hosted by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable.

The theme of Sunday’s concert was “Many Faiths, One Family.”

“The title by itself is really telling, isn’t it?” said Elder Walter F. González of the Seventy in his welcome message. “This event stands as a symbol that we can do things together to bless the lives of others. As we do so, we can enjoy mutual respect, understanding, appreciation — symptoms of harmony and love, which will lead all of us to a better society.”

The evening’s opening devotions began with a Muslim call to prayer from Mubarak Okasha of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake. Such calls to prayer are done five times a day by adherents of Islam.

                                                     

Larry Green and Rabbi Alan Bachman then offered a Jewish shofar devotion. The shofar, typically a cleaned-out ram’s horn, has Jewish roots in the Hebrew Bible (see, for example, Exodus 19). The horn plays an important role in Jewish religious observance, especially during Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur.

                                                                 

Lacee Harris, a spiritual leader and healer with the Northern Ute and Northern Paiute tribes, concluded the devotional part of the program with an invocation of blessing on all present in his native tongue.

                                                               

The Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir opened the musical portion of the program with two pieces: “Come, Come, Ye Saints” (in honor of the 200th anniversary of the First Vision) and a medley of “This Little Light of Mine” and “America the Beautiful.”

                                                             

The Salt Lake Scots Pipe Band, associated with the First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City, filled the Tabernacle with the sounds of “Highland Cathedral,” “At Long Last,” “Dawning of the Day,” “Amazing Grace” and “Scotland the Brave.”

                                                           

The Salt Lake Children’s Choir performed “Lobt Gott ihr Christen Alle Gleich” (“Praise God, All Christians Equally”) and Psalm 23.

                                                         

The Khemera Dance Troupe, a Cambodian Buddhist group, depicted angels descending from heaven to offer a blessing with sacred goblets full of red flower petals. This dance, a symbol of peace and solidarity, is often done to open Buddhist ceremonies and other events.

                                                       

Randall Noumbissi, a member of Salt Lake’s Baha’i community, read two paragraphs from the sacred texts of his faith. The words called for humanity to rise up and be a blessing to those around them.

                                                     

Members of the Sikh Temple of Utah performed a Kirtan with two songs. The first was an expression of God’s goodness and a plea for God’s comforting embrace. The second was a petition to God to save a world engulfed in flames.

                                                   

A group from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City (Coro Hispano de la Catedral de la Magdalena) performed three pieces: “Viva la Fe,” “Ama a Tu Señor” and “Cristo Te Necesita.”

                                                 

The Hindu Kannada Folk Dancers performed three dances to represent the folk tradition of the Karnataka area of South India. The first dance praised the creator of earthenware vessels that hold life-sustaining water. The second celebrated the new year and life’s mix of bitter and sweet experiences. The third praised Lord Shiva, one of Hinduism’s chief deities.

                                               

The Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir concluded the musical performances with “My Hallelujah Belongs to You (You Deserve It)” and “The Blessings of Abraham.

                                             

Rabbi Sam Spector of Congregation Kol Ami of Salt Lake closed the evening with prayer and a blessing of peace for all present.

                                           

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