‘WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR FREEDOMS’

By LORETTA FULTON

“Breaking Bread Together in Peace,” the motto of the Abilene Interfaith Council, was a welcome relief Thursday from news of recent acts of violence in houses of worship in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

“The work we do today,” said AIC President Jacob Snowden, “are the things that make for peace.”

Something as simple as “breaking bread together in peace” is a meaningful act, especially when done by members of many faiths, such as a Thursday’s National Day of Prayer service sponsored by the Abilene Interfaith Council.

Sammie Garza, representing the Baha’i Faith at the 2019 National Day of Prayer service sponsored by the Abilene Interfaith Council. Video by Loretta Fulton

Snowden reminded the participants that there is value in knowing what others think and believe. That knowledge can bring people closer together.

“We all suffer together,” Snowden said, “when there is violence against our neighbor.”

Following Snowden’s introduction, Omer Hancock, retired Hardin-Simmons University religion professor, gave a brief history of the National Day of Prayer. Then, representatives from seven faith traditions offered prayers. The service closed with the literal “breaking bread together in peace,” as four circles were formed and a loaf of bread shared in each.

First to offer a prayer was David Romanik, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, representing the Anglican tradition. Romanik noted that collects from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer are the most representative prayers of Anglicanism. Romanik read three collects, for purity, for peace, and for God’s mission in the world.

Participating in a 2019 National Day of Prayer service sponsored by the Abilene Interfaith Council were Avalon Santana Zakazakina, left. representing Norse Paganism, and Shawna Mitchell Hayhurst, top right, representing Native American spirituality. At bottom right, participants break bread together. Photos by Loretta Fulton

Others offering prayers were Sammie Garza, Baha’i Faith; Dason Williams, Roman Catholic; JoDee Pate, New Thought Spirituality; Avalon Santana Zakezakina, Norse Pagan; Ron Smith, Protestant, and Shawna Mitchell Hayhurst, Native American.

Pate handed out cards with a poem by Unity Poet Laureate James Dillet Freeman that was one of two poems taken to the moon by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

The light of God surrounds me;
The love of God enfolds me;
The power of God protects me;
The presence of God watches over me;
Wherever I am, God is and All is Well.

Hancock, who gave a history of the National Day of Prayer, noted that prayer has always been important in people’s lives. That importance was noted in the lives of citizens in 1775 when the Continental Congress requested a day of prayer, Hancock said.

In 1791, when the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, five freedoms were included. At Thursday’s observance, Hancock noted, three of those freedoms were celebrated–religion, speech, and peaceful assembly.

“We are grateful for those freedoms,” Hancock said.

 

 

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