WESTFIELD, NJ – Hundreds joined the Union County Day of Prayer hosted at The Parish Community of St. Helen in Westfield on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council and Community Access Unlimited.
According to the event’s program, the evening was organized to “facilitate the building of bonds within the interfaith community, promoting the respect, inclusion and welcoming of others.”
“It is a great honor to be host of this event tonight as since the last time we met, it’s been a tumultuous year,” said Father Michael A. Saporito of The Parish Community of St. Helen. “In the midst of disunity, in the midst of hate speech, in the midst of the bad treatment of many, many people, what a great privilege it is to come together with people of faith hoping for peace, striving for love.”
Members of clergy from throughout Union County offered prayers, song and peace during the hour-and-a-half event that encouraged attendees to focus on the parts of faith that join people. Participants shared music and prayer from their faiths and took the opportunity to translate the lyrics and the intentions of the prayers in an effort to demonstrate the similarities between communities.
“We must endeavor to treat everybody and help people see the light of being able to treat everybody as equals,” said Sidney Blanchard, executive director of Community Access Unlimited, an organization that provides community access through person-centered support services for adults and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities and at-risk youth.
Clergy participants included Father Michael Saporito of the Parish Community of St. Helen's, Deacon Timothy Williams of the First Baptist Church in Kenilworth, Most Reverend Manuel A. Cruz Regional Bishop of Union County, Dr. LL DuBreuil of Faith United Church of Christ in Union, Rev. Carmine Pernini of Zion Lutheran Church in Rahway, Pastor Carl Brewer of Metropolitan Seventh Day Adventist Church in Plainfield, Venerable Klint Kevalin of the Dhammakaya Meditation Center in Fanwood, Rev. Ann Marie Alderman of the First Unitarian Society in Plainfield, Rabbi Cecelia Beyer of Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael in Springfield, Rev. Barry Wise II of Greater M. Moriah Baptist Church in Linden, Imam Khalil Abdul Aziz of Mosque Masjidullah in Plainfield, Rev. Dr. Sheila Fall of Temple of God Church in Linden and Clerk Karen Tibbals of the Rahway-Plainfield Society of Friends in Plainfield.
Music was performed by the Students of the Muslim Community Center of Union County, members of The Institute of Music for Children, The Choir of the Parish Community of St. Helen led by Music Director Frederick Golz and The Fanwood/Scotch Plains Community Choir led by Music Director Cantor Matthew Axelrod.