We have separate jobs, political affiliations and attend different churches, noted Sister Beth Sermet of the Islamic Society of Southwest Washington.
“So, how can we become more together?” she asked the dozens of people gathered Thursday at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Vancouver for the annual interfaith prayer breakfast.
The Interfaith Coalition of Southwest Washington hosts the breakfast at a different church each year and also holds an interfaith Thanksgiving service.
“Coming together, breaking bread together, really brings that community feeling,” said Khalid Khan, who’s part of the Interfaith Coalition and the Islamic Society.
Sermet said she regularly advocates for Muslims, typically an insular group, to get more involved in the broader community and cooperate with other groups. She invited others to do the same — to reach out to Muslims or people of different faiths and work together. Removing evil is imperative to not just the Muslim faith but all faiths, she said.
“Think about what evil you see and can you take action,” Sermet said.
The Rev. Joe Scheeler of All Saints Episcopal Church said First Nations people braid their children’s hair while reciting “self, family, community.” The mantra is meant to remind us that when self, family and community are all woven together, they’re protected; they become strong, like a rope. The Traveling Day Society, a ministry of All Saints, performed music throughout Thursday’s breakfast.
Pawneet Sethi of the Oregon and Southwest Washington Sikh community spoke about fulfilling humanity’s basic needs as a stepping stone to spiritual growth. What kind of society would we be if our neighbors’ basic needs were met and they could “fulfill their divine potential,” he said. He presented a check to Concerned Humans Against Poverty, or CHAP, a local nonprofit that regularly serves lunches to homeless people.
Diana Perez, who is the state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, spoke out against the lack of due process for people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and asked for families to be reunited immediately. She said faith communities can help those separated families.
“If there is no greater power, it is love,” she said.
The breakfast closed with Flip Frisch playing guitar and singing “And We Shall Rise,” a cantor at Congregation Kol Ami that encourages rising from prayer to action. Frisch sung by herself at first but was soon joined in song by the crowd gathered at St. Andrew.
Patty Hastings: 360-735-4513; twitter.com/pattyhastings; firstname.lastname@example.org