Fredericksburg Faith Leaders Take Stand for Tolerance and Peace
By Susan Larson
Building personal relationships is one way to bridge religious differences, said four Fredericksburg faith leaders on WFVA radio’s “Town Talk” April 2.
Listen to the podcast Town Talk April 2
Joe Hensley and Gay Rahn from St. George’s Episcopal Church, Aaron Dobynes from Shiloh Baptist Church Old Site, and Sheikh Rashid from the Islamic Ummah of Fredericksburg — along with Rabbi Jeremy R. Weisblatt of Beth Sholom Temple, who was not in town the day of the show — had participated in a January seminar at St. George’s called “Why Bridging Religious Differences is More Important than Ever.” That day they decided to promote interfaith friendship and respect by planning and participating together in interfaith events for the community.
Their first joint project was a letter to the Fredericksburg community, which is printed below. Forthcoming is a National Day of Prayer Interfaith gathering on May 7.
“To our beloved Fredericksburg community:
Half a century ago, religious leaders of all faith communities came together with a shared vision of the future. These leaders, including the late Rev. Dr. King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, marched hand in hand, took prayer into action and “prayed with their feet.”
Together, these leaders and their communities changed the course of our country—for through their actions and never-ending commitment to equality and social justice, the dream deferred became a reality—the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Recently, a few of us found ourselves in the same room having a conversation about why bridging religious differences is more important than ever. We talked about the fact that today, we find ourselves in a similar and yet different situation. Communities across our country are once more struggling with racial inequality, with anti-Semitism and with Islamophobia.
Today, we say: No more. Today we say: We are here. Today we say the following: We—Jewish, Christian and Muslim clergy—are standing together, hand in hand, working to bring another dream deferred into reality.
We hereby declare, in one voice, the following:
We stand together and condemn all forms of hatred and violent acts against our fellow brothers and sisters.
The dream has been deferred for too long once more. Today, we pray with our feet once more.
Rabbi Jeremy R. Weisblatt, Beth Sholom Temple
Rev. Dr. Aaron L. Dobynes, Sr., Shiloh Baptist Church Old Site
The Rev, Joe Hensley, Rector, St. George’s Episcopal Church
The Rev. Gay M. Rahn, St. George’s Episcopal Church
Sheikh Rashid Lamptey, Imam/Director of Islamic Ummah of Fredericksburg
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