SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Representatives of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerium along with members of surrounding communities gathered Tuesday night on the corner of Park Avenue and Front Street in Downtown Scotch Plains to promote diversity and religious tolerance in Union County.
On what would be the darkest night of the year (winter solstice), Reverend Carletta Aston of the First United Methodist Church welcomed the crowd with an inspiring speech.
“We meet today to speak some light into the darkness that purveys the psyche and actions of our country and our world," Aston said. "There is much darkness as some Americans are attacking religious tolerance. Some of us have let our fears cloud our reason given some of the horrific things that have gone on. But we members of the Ministerium and the Union County Clergy Coordinating Council cannot remain silent in the face of this darkness. We come today to shine some light of tolerance, some light of love, some light of peace, some light of hope into the darkness of hatred and bigotry. We come today to take a stand together with others who want liberty and justice for all."
Attendees were encouraged to create their own fluorescent signs to display on the sidewalk, while several motorists driving down Park Avenue showed their support by enthusiastically honking.
More than 100 supporters joined the rally, listening to encouraging words from Bishop Kelvin Brooks of the Kingdom Life Cathedral, Sid Blanchard of Community Access Unlimited, Rabbi Joel Abraham of Temple Sholom and Mohammad Ali Chaudry of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge.
“Whether we are Muslims, whether we are Christians, whether we are Jews, we are all Americans,” Chaudry said.
Together, the crowd recited a pledge to stand up against any and all racial or religious discrimination they may hear in their communities. The night concluded with a harmonious rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.”