In the challenging time of racial and religious intolerance as displayed in Charlottesville, fevered anti-immigrant xenophobia and political discord of historic extremes there comes the balance of a nation pulling together to support the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
With this backdrop the Fourth Annual Union County "Day of Prayer and Reflection: Unifying Our Community through Prayer" will be held Tuesday, October 24, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Parish Community of St. Helen at 1600 Rahway Avenue in Westfield.
The annual Day of Prayer is an interfaith gathering of the faith-based, nonprofit and government communities to unite people from throughout the county regardless of religion, race or disability, according to Deacon Tim Williams of the First Baptist Church in Kenilworth and chairman of the steering committee of the Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council, which sponsors the event each year.
The 2017 Day of Prayer will feature prayers, songs and meditations of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh religious leaders from throughout Union County and neighboring counties. The opening prayer will be given by the Most Rev. Manuel A. Cruz of the Archdiocese of Newark, regional bishop of Union County, vicar for the Archdiocese's Hispanic Apostolate and rector of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
"The Union County Day of Prayer has brought together all faiths to focus on the common needs and concerns for all of the people of Union County and our nation," Williams said. "Coming together to pray has shown us the commonalties of our faiths and helped us to strengthen our relationships with our brothers and sisters of all faiths."
The Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council is an organization comprising interfaith congregations and community-based nonprofits, including Community Access Unlimited (CAU). The council promotes inclusion of all people within the community and creates a clearing house of faith-based, nonprofit and government community services available to the public while bringing greater awareness of these services to the greater community, according to Sid Blanchard, executive director of CAU.
CAU is a statewide Elizabeth-based nonprofit providing support programs and services to adults with disabilities as well as youth served under the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enable them to live independently in the community, providing supports in areas including housing, vocational skills and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation.