(Pictured from left: Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Maxwell, superintendent of the Saginaw, Bay District of the United Methodist Church; Imam Robert A. Shaheed, Islamic Center of Saginaw; Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw; Sister Elaine Raymond, MSSp, who read from the Hebrew scriptures on behalf of the Jewish community; and Pastor James Glenn, Center of Attraction Outreach.)
There was standing room only at the Interreligious Prayer Service for Religious Liberty on July 2. The gathering was hosted by the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone and brought together spiritual leaders representing several faith traditions across the community.
There were approximately 150 faithful in attendance who listened to readings from the Koran, Torah and Bible. Click here for photos.
The following remarks were shared by Bishop Cistone after he thanked those in attendance for showing their joint support for religious liberty:
Over the past two weeks, faith communities, across the country, have been participating in what is called a Fortnight for Freedom. Fortnight for Freedom is a national campaign designed to afford us the opportunity to express our belief in the right to Religious Freedom – here in the United States and abroad – and to raise awareness of the growing concerns over threats to that freedom.
Here in America, we enjoy and value greatly the freedom - and, indeed, the right - to practice and to live our faith, and to contribute to the common good of society, in accordance with that faith. We do so through worship and community activities, as well as through the values parents pass on to their children within their own homes.
This is not an event involving multiple and long speeches. We are here to pray together, to listen to the Word of God as it has been passed on to us through our various religious traditions, to acknowledge the contributions our individual faith communities have made and continue to make towards the common good - in our own country and throughout the world, and to witness to our conviction that we can only make such contributions as long as we enjoy the freedom to follow our faith convictions, according to our own consciences.
We gather from many and varied faith traditions – Christian and non-Christian – to celebrate what unites us. Although we may differ in doctrine and creed, we are one in professing our love for God and our desire to follow God’s will in our lives, as each of us understands God’s will.
On Wednesday, July 4th, we Americans will gratefully remember those brave men and women who committed themselves in service to defend this country and our freedoms. In a special way, we will honor those who suffered injuries and, most especially, sacrificed their very lives to protect our rights and freedoms.
I invite you to listen to the following readings from the Koran, the Torah, and the Sacred Scriptures of Christianity, and to join us in prayer and song.
The prayer service, held at the Andersen Enrichment Center in Saginaw, concluded with an ecumenical prayer for peace from the World Council of Churches and the singing of God Bless America.