The Board of Trustees for The Gaston Interfaith Center, and all other friends of the Center, have not been able to make enough time to plan out activities for the forseeable future. At this time we announce that we will shift into “Idle” mode, and will not be planning out any events until further notice.
We will continue to promote and support other interfaith initiatives, in Gaston County and beyond, so look for such information here or at our Facebook page. If you have any questions or need more information about this move, please contact Steve Knight, GIC Board Chair, whose information is listed on the “About” page of this site.
Thank you to all of you that have participated in The Gaston Interfaith Center up until now! We look forward to a bright future together, one in which interfaith understanding, cooperation, and living become more common!
A friendly faith community with GIC, Open Hearts Gathering, will meet next Saturday, February 4, 6:30 PM, at New Hope Baptist Church (their adoptive home, and also another friendly faith community with GIC), located at 2024 Redbud Dr. in Gastonia, on the corner or S. New Hope Rd. and Redbud, and host a celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week. Put forward as a proposal at the UN by King Abdullah II of Jordan in 2010, the UN declared the first week of February a time to celebrate! Please come be a part of this event (see it listed here) if you can!
You can RSVP at the Open Hearts Gathering Facebook event page that they’ve set up. Please also bring some snack-type food if you want, especially if it refelcts something about your own faith tradition (we wanna taste your faith, too!). We’ll share stories of our interfaith acitivity over the years. Please come ready to tell your stories, and also the basics of your faith traditions.
Contact Rev. Dennis Teall-Fleming, Pastor of Open Hearts Gathering, if you have any questions. Thanks, we’ll see you there!
Ash-hadu al-la ilaha illa llah (I bear witness that there is no God except God)
Ash-hadu anna Mu?ammadan rasulullah (I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s Messenger)
Hayya ‘ala s-salah (Come to salat (prayer, worship))
Allahu akbar (God is greatest!)
La ilaha illallah (There is no god except God)
Joann Groves, a Buddhist neighbor, shares some of her own reflections on the meaning of Thanksgiving for her.
Prayers around the Peace Pole during the Service. Charlie Brown, Cantor and spiritual leader at Temple Emanuel, leads the way.
Samantha Raber, a Muslim neighbor, shares some of her reflections on Thanksgiving.
Charlie up again, leading us in The Priestly Blessing of Aaron (Birkat Kohanim, in the Bible, Numbers 6:24-26):
Yivorekhekhaw Adonai v’yishm’rekhaw (May the LORD (YHWH) bless you and guard you)
Yo’ayr Adonai pawnawv aylekhaw vikhoonekhaw (May the LORD make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you)
Yisaw Adonai pawnav aylekhaw v’yasaym l’khaw shalom (May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace)
Robert Kellogg, a Christian neighbor, leading us in the Prayer of Gathering:
We gather together to celebrate our community and to declare…that we are all connected; that since the beginning of time we have been connected, and that we need one another.
All the universe and all life is from God, we are all God’s children.
We come from very different places, and commit to sharing with each other, and making our community as inclusive as possible.
We practice different religious traditions, but commit ourselves to loving all our Gaston neighbors.
We will strive to understand each other better, and to creating goodwill and compassion right where we live.
With thankful hearts, in the spirit of this shared holiday, we will strive to creating stronger connections with one another, fellow sojourners in this life together.
Kim Pace, English Instructor at Gaston College, closes us with a bit of Walt Whitman:
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown….Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body….The poet shall not spend their time in unneeded work. The poet shall know that the ground is always ready ploughed and manured….Others may not know it but the poet shall. They shall go directly to the creation. Their trust shall master the trust of everything they touch….and shall master all attachment. (from the Preface to “Leaves of Grass”)
See Kim’s blog post about the experience as well.
Thank you to everyone who helped lead us, and to all of you that were able to participate!
News 14 Carolina and The Gaston Gazette both came out today to cover the Peace Walk. Stories and videos are in several places- News 14 today, The Gazette yesterday, and then today (with video). Big thank you’s go out to McKinsey Harris of News 14, and to Amanda Memrick, Wade Allen, and Mike Hendsill of The Gazette, for continuing to be such a great community resource for our area, and helping to get the word out about the “good news” going on in Gastonia!
We’re you able to be at the Walk today? Or not? Interested in being a part of MORE? Consider joining us in a couple weeks for the next event, an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, Monday, November 21, 7 PM, at First United Methodist Church in Gastonia. Sign up to attend at the event’s Facebook page, and contact me if you need directions, more info., etc. Thanks, we look forward to seeing you all there!
Anyone who can help, please download the Peace Walk flyer, print it up, and distribute liberally!, in your faith communities, and any other stores, public places, et. al. in the Gaston area, where the WORD! can get out about our Witness for Peace on the 29th. If you do end up getting the flyer put up anywhere, please let everyone know over at the Gaston Interfaith Center Facebook page, where we’re keeping track of where it’s been put up. Thank you for your help!
You’ll recognize Sam from the post below on the 9/11 Service. The Gazette interviewed him the week before for a piece on 9/11. Please contact the Gazette and thank them for being a true community resource, in caring about and writing about our Muslim neighbors! Thanks for your help!
We had many great presenters and prayers on September 11. If you weren’t able to attend, or just want to read through the meditations and see the pictures, some of them are gathered here:
The first two entries here were read Board of Trustees member Rev. Dennis Teall-Fleming, by people that couldn’t be at the Service but wanted to participate, a prayer/poem and a meditation:
Gireesh Gupta, a Hindu neighbor
A 9/11 Prayer
Tuesday, 9/11/2001, was forever imprinted in our minds.
It was the day when mankind witnessed senseless hatred and violence.
It was the day when thousands of innocent men, women, and children died.
It was also the day when heroes in red, blue, yellow, and black suits
and brave men and women in white, black, and brown colors
so fearlessly and courageously saved lives and sacrificed their own
and left behind their children and spouses.
It was the day when the world saw the worst and the best of humanity
and it was the day when love triumphed over hatred.
Let us pray for the departed souls that fateful day.
Let us pray for the families of the victims who died.
Let us pray for the brave souls who fought the evil in the planes
and sacrificed their lives to save thousands of others.
Let us pray for the firemen and policemen who so bravely served.
Let us pray for the kind volunteers who rescued the buried.
Let us pray for the people of our great nation
who unified as one to fight this heinous and atrocious act.
Let us pray that God will give us the strength and courage
to fight evil with good,
to fight violence with kindness,
and to return hatred with love
for the true nature of love is peace.
Let us pray that one day there will be no violence in the world,
that good will overcome the evil and brotherhood and sisterhood will prevail,
and Mother earth will see all her children live together in harmony and peace.
When Dennis asked me to write this piece, I was honored, but also at a loss. He wanted me to write about the impact and ramifications of 9-11, on me, the nation and the world. Keep in mind that this is the result of someone who is still young and whose eyes are not yet as seasoned as others, so many will take my words as naïve or even uninformed. Some may even disagree outright, or be enraged. We can’t all agree on everything.
First, as a non-believer, the impact of 9-11 was tremendous. It told me that I was to struggle against something. That something was not religion, but religious extremism and fundamentalism. As an atheist, my fight is not with religion. What must be fought is extremism in all of its forms, religious or otherwise, that foster intolerance.
This goes into the next part, which stresses the impact of 9-11 on a nation. We are now more paranoid and distrustful. Our government now engages in surveillance and abridging the rights of the people. We now edge ever closer to a police state in the likeness of 1984 or Brave New World. All because of a threat from an “other” that seeks to engulf us. Never mind that this boogey man, being Islamic fundamentalism inspiring terrorism, is only a few fringe groups scattered throughout the middle east, incapable of waging fullscale war on America, or either in power and supported by the US. The impact of 9-11 on the world is more frightening. There is great unrest, anxiety, conflict, and instability. War now, at least for the US, is unlimited in scope and duration. 9-11 exacerbated such an unstable world. Fear of the bogeyman now makes others react with their own brand of intolerance, as per the massacre committed in Norway. Now with a downtrodden economy, injured largely by fundamentalism of another sort, which others dub “free-market fundamentalism”, as well as massive military spending, and compounded with the problem of climate-change, the future looks bleak. All of this has ripples on the rest of the world. Indeed it may be said that this is a consequence of earlier empire building efforts of all super powers.
The way forward, in my opinion, is spirituality. Yes, I said it. What I mean by this is the acknowledgment that we are one. We are all connected to each other and the earth, and the universe. This is not religion, this is fact. Biologically, we are part of the biosphere on earth. We react to the earth as it reacts to us. It is simple cause and effect. We have also evolved as social beings, and we develop our minds by interacting with others. It may be said that it is others who make us. Now is not the time of selfishness. Don’t pay any heed to those who would have you believe that selfishness and greed is good, and altruism and a sense of community are bad. These kinds of people (I’m looking at you Ayn Rand) don’t really know what it is to be human, or how human society works, and their ideas are quite monstrous and dangerous. We must acknowledge suffering and all of its causes. We must fight these causes. Poverty, warfare, and sickness, then must be fought. We must stop being suspicious of one another. We must acknowledge the differences between us, and accept these differences, if we are to come together. Strength lies in diversity, not uniformity. If one looks at the world, there does exist conflict between those that are religious. But if one takes a second look, one sees that there is NO conflict between those that are spiritual. The spiritual Those that come together already know what is to be done. Fundamentalism is in fact threatened by the spiritual. Where fundamentalism says, “Only us.”, spirituality says, “All.” Spirituality defeats egotistical fundamentalism, in the words of Alejandro Jodorowsky. This then is a fight against the worst aspects of the ego.
Robert Kellogg, a Christian neighbor, giving his meditation, included here below:
Local Christian artists Michael Arrowood and Jesse Padgett leading us in song:
“How He Loves”
and “If Everyone Cared”
Jo Ann Groves, a Buddhist neighbor, gives us a meditation on a better future, ten years later.
Those millions of us who lived or worked directly within the 9/11’s smoking shadows- the ruins of the Twin Towers and the crumpled walls of the Pentagon- did so under clouds we never expected to see, much less have to measure morally. Thousands of people were crushed and incinerated in our neighborhoods that day. Together, they belonged to a vast, radically diverse crowd, of many religions, many ethnicities and nationalities. What ultimately became of them? I mean, in this life, the life of the rest of us, who stood in terrified awe beneath those clouds. Did we the living breathe in their ashes as they floated invisibly to earth? And if we did, what do we owe those people? Surely, something more imaginative and more helpful than a war on terror. They deserve a better monument, a monument dedicated to life and to hope.
There are a few events in the Fall that we’re helping put together in our area. Please come be a part of them if you can!
Memorial Service for the September 11th terrorist attacks- Sunday, September 11, 2 PM at the Martin Luther King Plaza, at the Gaston County DSS building, at the corner of Marietta St. and Long Ave. in Gastonia. Prayer will begin at 2 PM.
Peace Walk, from Temple Emanuel to the Islamic Society of Gastonia, Saturday, October 29. We will most likely begin this walk at the Temple at 8 AM, and will have places along the route where we’ll stop and pray for Peace. That way you can join us at a prayer time if you cannot walk to whole route. More details for this event are on the way.