All faith traditions attest to justice and equality for everyone in our human family. Yet worship services are often segregated and faith leaders struggle with how to create a more inclusive and equitable Montgomery County. On Thursday, August 13, 4-5:30 pm, four faith leaders defined the meaning of racial equity and describe how their faith communities are dealing with systemic racism and working with others toward achieving racial equity.
Children of the Dream was the theme for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Tribute at the Music Center at Strathmore. Invocations were offered by Yuraj Singh, Aviva Bechky and Ricardine Gray representing the Sikh, Jewish and Christian faiths. The County Executive, all Councilmembers, Chair of the MCPS Board, and Rep. Jamie Raskin addressed the assembly. Wisdom Alexander Martin and his son, Wisdom, served as emcees.
Inspiring entertainment was provided by the Strathmore Childfen’s Chorus, Dem’ Raider Boys, Ronnie Diamond Hoard, Story Tapestries, Akhmedova Ballet, Kelvin Dukes and the Dre3am Choir. Special credit is due the Commemorative Committee headed by Julian Norment, Martin Rookard and James Stowe.
It was an awesome celebration of Dr. King whose continuing legacy was evident in over 5,000 volunteers working in five community service sites throughout the day.
I’m truly grateful for the increasing companionship of
people embracing everyone as a member of our human family and working together
in ways that offer hope laced with thanks-giving.
I’m thinking of those leading and attending
interfaith thanksgiving services throughout Montgomery County, and those
volunteering to serve as many as 1,000 meals in a day to our hungry neighbors,
I’m thinking of those rallying in support of our
Muslim friends observing Eid Al-Fitr, and the College Board honoring that by
offering an alternative day for testing, and MCPS being closed.
I’m thinking of those working on climate
solutions, and those participating in “Candid Conversations on Race”, for
facing their racism and achieving greater equity in Montgomery County.
I’m thinking of those introducing refugee
families to our Thanksgiving holiday, and those on call for responding to acts
of hate and violence, as well as all forms of emergencies.
The list could go on and on thanks to increasing numbers
of people reaching out beyond their comfort zones, crossing lines of
differences, and discovering kindred spirits.
I am grateful for every one of you, and for your contribution to
Montgomery County’s enhanced sense of community, security and resilience.
My greatest sense of gratitude, however, lies with the
Holy One who goes by many names, and yet is beyond them all. The One in whom we live, and move, and have
our being. The One who loves us
unconditionally, has created us with a divine spark and called us to love one
another as we love ourselves.
I encourage each of us to take some time during this Thanksgiving
Season to be silent, to connect with the source of all life and love, and be
grateful for the difference it makes in keeping us whole. Facing the confusion, conflict and corruption
of our time by ourselves can leave us fearful, numb and helpless. Grounded in divine love, our hearts can be
open to the needs and aspirations of our world.
I give thanks for the company of all whose hearts are
open, and whose faith in action offers hope and good reason for being thankful.
The 2019 Montgomery County Unity Walk on the Highway to Heaven celebrated the richness of our divine diversity and demonstrated the value of collaboration among government, nonprofits and faith communities.
The Resource Fair featured benefits offered by 20 organizations. The Opening Ceremony included an instrumental Call to Prayer by 5 faith traditions, remarks by County Executive, Marc Elrich, and County Council VP, Sidney Katz; and Sara Curtin, of the Strathmore for the Arts Bloom program, inspired everyone to feel as one community through singing together.
Touring Houses of Worship, with Ride On bus service, included the Chinmaya Mission and a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for their Meditation Path, Beth Chai and Am Kolel hosting people in their Sukkah, Peoples Community Baptist Church featuring Gospel Singing, Muslim Community Center featuring their mosque and Health Clinic, First Alliance Church featuring their community services and multinational congregation, Cambodian Buddhist Temple illustrating the life of Buddha, and Transfiguration Episcopal Church demonstrating their multicultural community and mission.
On Monday, October 28, 2019 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM at the Silver Spring Civic Building learn how our racialized society affects all people. Multiple book groups and a film discussion group, located throughout the county, based on books chosen to raise awareness of racism and white privilege meeting 4-5 times in the Fall & Winter. Participants MUST purchase their own copy of the book they select.
Meet neighbors, tour houses of worship, learn what our diverse faith communities offer. Resource fair at 1 PM Opening ceremony at 1:30 PM followed by a tour of houses of worship representing different faith traditions. Learn more here!
On August 9, 2019, the 3rd Anniversary Memorial Service for the victims of the Flower Branch Apartments solemnly honored the seven who died, and sought to comfort those who grieve and live with continuing trauma.
In the candlelight procession around the building replacing the destroyed one, Rev. Kaseman was joined by the woman who first saw the fire and warned others. She said this was the first time she was able to walk around it. This demonstrates why the power of community and such services are important.It was encouraging to see elected officials and partners who were present three years ago from DHHS, the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, nonprofit staff and volunteers, and faith leaders (our ESCV team of 1st responders were called up at 3:22 am that day).
This is why we work collaboratively with government, nonprofits and interfaith leaders. We’re stronger together, and demonstrating our love makes a difference.