NUTLEY, NJ - The shofar was blown by Rabbi David Greenstein of Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair at Vincent United Methodist Church. Gathered with the Rabbi on the chancel were clergy from VUMC, Grace Episcopal Church, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church and Franklin Reformed Church. The church was filled with people of different faiths.
The annual Nutley Community Thanksgiving was held by the Nutley Clergy Fellowship on Monday evening, Nov. 25. The Rev. David LeDuc of VUMC welcomed the guests. Joined together for the service with Greenstein and LeDuc were The Revs. Pamela Bakal and Audrey Hasselbrook from Grace Church, the Revs. Richard Berbary and Thomas Nicastro of St. Mary’s Church and the Rev. Jill Fenske of Franklin Reformed Church.
Music filled the sanctuary throughout the service with the Nutley Community Choir directed by Tricia Blanchard, the Wesley Ringers directed by John Slattery and the Park Street Band. Songs performed included “Hine Ma Tov” (“How Good it is for People to Dwell Together in Unity”) and “Calypso on Sing to the Lord of Harvest with for the Fruit of All Creation.”
Greenstein led the “Songs of Thanks” with his sermon. “I have just two words for you,” Greenstein said. He explained how easy it can be to say two words to tell someone off but how difficult it could be to say the words “I apologize” or “thank you.” “There is no shame in saying thank you,” he said.
Greenstein also said people tend to knot up and crouch. “Let us untwist those knots, those ties and reach out to one another,” he said asking all to join hands. He added, “Be thankful of the simple warmth of each other’s hand.”
Nutley Mayor Joseph P. Scarpelli gave a few words on behalf of the Board of Commissioners. “Thanksgiving marks the beginning of our holiday season. […] A time to love our neighbor, a time to help those in need, and a time to reflect on the things that matter most.” He added, “No matter the different perspectives and faiths we come from, tonight we come together as a united community to thank and praise God for all the things we have been given, the freedoms we enjoy, and the love ones who enrich our lives.”
Scarpelli asked for prayers of guidance and wisdom for the commissioners for the challenges ahead for the township, to assist those in need and that the community stay strong, safe and united.
A free will donation was collected at the service to support Nutley Family Service Bureau’s opioid addiction services. Staela Keegan, a NFSB licensed clinical social worker and licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor, said in 2017 over 3,100 people in New Jersey died from an opioid overdose. NFSB has an opioid support group which meets the second and fourth Wednesday from 7 to 8 p.m. each month. The free support group, which began in June this year, currently has 10 members. The opioid support group began from the free will donations collected from the previous year’s interfaith Thanksgiving service.
After the service the clergy, participants and the crowd gathered for refreshments and conversation in the Philhower Chapel at VUMC.
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