OLEAN, NY -- People representing many different faiths gathered outside the gazebo in the Lincoln Park Thursday in observance of the National Day of Prayer.

“Methodist… we had one from the Unitarian-Universalists tradition, we had one from the Hindu society, the Meditation Center, the Islamic society,” Bruce Levine, pastor of Olean First Presbyterian Church, said. “The [prayer] I opened with was from a Jewish prayer book.”

Levine led the service. He stressed how important moments and events such as this one can be.

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“I think it’s going to be more and more important as time goes on, as the threat of extremist fundamental religions and terrorism increases in our world,” he said. “There’s got to be a voice that says, ‘no, there’s another way.’”

Victoria Kearns, the director of the Olean Meditation Center, felt honored to be among all of the different faiths reading prayers. She read a pray written by the Mahāyāna Buddhists.

“I read Prayer for World Peace from Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche who is a guru for the Sangha. It’s calling for universal peace.”

Olean Mayor William J. Aiello delivered a proclamation before the prayer service. He praised the Olean community for being an accepting diverse group of all faiths.

“It’s one of the things I tell people all the time, Olean is very fortunate we have such a diverse community and we have a strong faith base,” Aiello said. “That brings it all together. That’s important. Look at all of the religions that are here. They all have their own congregation. When you get everybody together, that’s how you build a strong community.”

After the prayer service, St Stephen's Episcopal Church hosted a soup luncheon.

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation.

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