ELIZABETH, NJ - As the nation continues to be gripped by increasing acts of racism and xenophobia and mass shootings, the sixth annual Union County Day of Prayer scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield will bring a message of inclusion with its theme of “Striving to Make a Beloved Community.”

TAPinto Elizabeth was with Chris Reardon of Reardon Communications at Community Access Unlimited, where he spoke with Rod Spierman of the council for the Trinity Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church and Skip Winter of the Council for the First Presbyterian Church of Cranford. Video of that discussion on the details of the upcoming event can be viewed below. 

This year the event will welcome Rabbi Avi Friedman of the Congregation Ohr Shalom - The Summit Jewish Community Center, who previously served as rabbi at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, where an anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant shooting took place in 2018 that killed 11 worshipers during Shabbat morning services. 

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Rabbi Friedman plans to speak about immigration and how we treat strangers. While he was no longer serving at the Tree of Life at the time of that shooting, in light of recent events in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, he may also share some thoughts relating to these tragedies. 

Also speaking will be Pandit Ramdular Singh representing the Hindu faith, Ali Bhatti of the Islamic faith, Dr. Norman Miles of the 7th Day Adventist and event host Rev. Jeremy Jinkins of the Presbyterian Church. 

They will join representatives from Roman Catholic, Baptist and other community houses of worship from throughout Union County for an evening of prayer, readings, meditations, and music.  

The annual public event, which drew hundreds of attendees in 2018, is a gathering of interfaith communities, nonprofits and government bodies from across Union County, according to Deacon Tim Williams of the First Baptist Church in Kenilworth. Williams is chairman of the steering committee for the Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council (UCICC), which sponsors the event each year. 

UCICC promotes inclusion of all people within the community and creates a clearinghouse of faith-based, nonprofit and government community services available to the public, promoting greater awareness of these services, according to Sid Blanchard, associate executive director of community relations at the nonprofit Community Access Unlimited (CAU) and founder of the council. 

CAU is a Union County-based, statewide nonprofit that strives to integrate people with disabilities and at-risk youth into the general community through comprehensive supports.

Registration for the sixth annual Union County Day of Prayer is not required but is requested. To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/6th-annual-union-county-day-of-prayer-reflection-tickets-63107522298.

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