On October 31st a group of interfaith leaders gathered to offer words of consolation, solidarity, hope and issue a call for prayer to guide our nation towards justice, peace and safety for all. At this politically volatile time with a resurgence of hatred and racism, prayer is not perfunctory but rather the most powerful way to apply our spiritual life and resources to a national and political emergency. The leaders are calling for five days of national prayer from November 1st until the election. The upcoming elections are no longer about politics but a referendum on white nationalist ideology in our country.
Rev. Dr. James Forbes, who convened the gathering, stated, “We need to pray and vote for the transformation of our nation that establishes justice and domestic tranquility. Today we convened a group of spiritual leaders to begin the prayers and invite you to join us. As we know where two or three are gathered together, the power of our God for transformation flows. Let us lift of our voices in solidarity and lift our voices to God to offer ourselves as instruments of peace.
“We are igniting a five-day prayer movement to take place in our houses of worship, homes, schools, works, and streets. Pray, stand, act, and vote against the politics of fear and hate. In this time of moral crisis, we will live and love side by side. We invite you to pray individually, in your small groups, work spaces, around your kitchen table with your children, and houses of worship. Prayer is opening the power of God to change, heal, and transform us,” said Jim Wallis.
In solidarity with the Tree of Life Synagogue, Rabbi David Saperstein finished the reading that was interrupted on Saturday. “The reading for that day was a story of new life and welcome. In the readings, Abraham and Sarah are welcoming their guests—welcome that was interrupted. We finished the reading today. We say these words as response to the explosion of hate groups and degradation of civil discourse. As long as one group is targeted, no group is no safe. The damage hate crimes inflict on people directly and our society are nothing less than attacks and betrayal of our democracy. What is extraordinary is the interfaith community response. We shall remain untied.”
Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner’s stirring word encouraged the connection of faith to our civic duty, “From the two-hundred-and-forty-year founding of our nation, we have witnessed a predictable cycle from oppression of other, to righteous resistance, followed by advancement of civil and human rights, and back to oppression. We find our nation today, back to a dark place with hatred and violence on the rise and not the love we talk about on Sunday. But what we know from the words of Dr. Maya Angelou—and still we rise. And still we rise because we are answering the call to refocus and see the image of God in all in people. We rise because we are voters for leaders that affirm God’s imprint in all of God’s children. We rise to be people called by God’s name to be worthy of that name.”
Rev. Dr. Robert Schenck shared his powerful testimony, “As an evangelical, I believe that God so loved the world and every human being in it, that He gave was what most precious to Him for it. And yet these days, I find myself filled with regret for having spent thirty-five years engaged in the inflammatory language that we hear spewed today. I never dreamed that the words that I used would be converted into hate. I have a warning and admonition to our religious, civic, and political leaders—the day has now come that your inflammatory language has been converted into the murder of innocent human beings. Civic and religious leaders need to take moral ownership of our language and may God help us repent and turn away from those words and towards healing the injury caused.”
Jim Winkler of the National Council of Churches urged, “People of faith are tipping point on critical issues and must lift their voices in elections. Scripture compels us to an increasing affirmation of dignity and value of every human, all of whom share the image of God. Our civic and religious lives are intrinsically entwined and a vital way we live out God’s call to love our neighbors.”
Recording of entire event is available at www.facebook.com/SojournersMagazine/
Interviews are available with the following:
Rev. Dr. James Forbes, President and Founder, Healing of the Nations Foundation and Preaching Professor at Union Theological Seminary
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director Emeritus, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rev. Dr. Robert Schenck, President of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute
Glenn W. Smith, journalist and political advisor/activist
Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners
Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Convener, National African American Clergy Network; President, Skinner Leadership Institute
Mr. Jim Winkler, General Secretary and President, National Council of Churches