SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerium hosted its annual interfaith Thanksgiving Community Service at First United Methodist Church in Scotch Plains on Monday evening. 

Rabbi Howard Tilman of Congregation Beth Israel welcomed the crowd, and Dr. Joan Mast, a member of the Ministerium, read from Psalm 92:1-4 as the Call to Worship before from First Unitarian Society of Plainfield gave the Opening Prayer. Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith and Fanwood Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell spoke as the official representatives of the two towns. 

Readings came from across faith traditions:

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  • Luke 10:25-27 by Rev. David Janke, Fanwood Presbyterian Church
  • Reading from Psalms by Rabbi Joel Abraham, Temple Sholom
  • Reading from Surah Rahman (from the Koran) by Ayesha Jabeen 
  • Non-Denominational Prayer by Sgt. Shreya Kachroo
  • Thanksgiving Address by Rev. Dr. Vijava Kumar, First United Methodist Church
  • Prayer by Deacon Bob Gurske, St. Bart's
  • Benediction by Rev. Chaz Hutchison, Scotch Plains Baptist Church

The evening was filled with music by the Interfaith Choir, led by Cantor Matthew Axelrod, which sang Dona Nobis Pacem/Sim Shalom; Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor (by Enna Kazarus and Irving Berlin); and The Lord Is Holy (based on Matthew 5, 9). There was also a performance of O Worship The King by the First United Methodist Handbell Choir and Power in Me by the Interfaith Youth Choir. The evening ended with a moving rendition of America the Beautiful (O Beautiful for Spacious Skies) in which the entire audience participated.

"It’s always special to begin Thanksgiving week with our Interfaith Thanksgiving Service," said Rabbi Howard Tilman of Congregation Beth Israel. "We’re so fortunate to be in a community where people of all faiths live together and have opportunities like this to express our gratitude."

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, there was also a collection to support Mobile Meals, a voluntary, non-profit community service that provides meals to anyone unable to cook for themselves on a temporary or permanent basis and do not qualify for the Meals on Wheels program. 

Houses of Worship involved in the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerium are:  All Saints Episcopal Church, Church of Jesus Christ - Latter Day Saints, Congregation Beth Israel, Dhammakaya International Meditation Center, Evangel Church, Fanwood Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Kingdom Life Cathedral, Muslim Community Center of Union County, St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church, St. John's Baptist Church, Scotch Plains Church of Christ, Temple Sholom, Terrill Road Baptist Church, Willow Grove Presbyterian Church, and Union County Interfaith Council.

The Ministerium also includes Educational and Affiliated Organizations: Emmanuel Cancer Foundation, Family Promise of Union County, Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA, JCC of Central NJ, Social Justice Matters, Union Catholic High School. Municipal officials including the Mayors of Scotch Plains and Fanwood, the Fanwood Borough Administrator, Scotch Plains Township Manager, Fanwood Rescue Squad, and the Superintendent of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood K-12 School District.

To experience some of the musical performances during the evening, click on the links below.