[Editor's Note: Welcome to Sojourner's Truth and Civility Election Watch Honor Roll. This post is part of a series of submissions from our constituents that highlight organizations and individuals engaging in positive, honest discourse.]
Honor Roll Nominee: Trinity United Methodist Church and the Gainesville Interfaith Forum
Nominated by: Patricia Kilby
When a radical, small Christian church threatened to burn copies of the Quaran on September 11, here in Gainesville, Florida, the international media descended upon our city. Reporters came to town from all over the world. They gave the minister of this small church a sense of importance which only fed the problem.
Trinity United Methodist Church, a large congregation in our area, decided to counter the proposed burning by hosting an interfaith open house. The church coordinated the event with the Gainesville Interfaith Forum.
People from many faiths and traditions attended the "Gathering for Understanding, Peace, and Hope" on Friday, September 10. Speakers included the mayor and the president of nearby University of Florida. The gathering included activities for children, shared food, music, communal art, and many expressions of prayer.
News of the peaceful event spread around the world, in part due to the international media already in town, and church leaders received supportive, affirming, and joyful emails in response. It was as though the world had been waiting for an event such as this.
In reflecting on the event, Trinity Senior pastor Rev. Dan Johnson said, "I think people of faith have been held hostage by the voices of extremists. The voices of the moderates just aren't heard," Johnson said. "I think many, many people want this kind of thing where we can come together to peacefully talk about political and religious differences."
Patricia Kilby lives in Gainesville, Florida and leads the parish visitation ministry at her church.
Congratulations to Trinity United Methodist Church, the Gainesville faith community, and all local faith leaders across the country who work to promote truth and civility in their communities! Have a nomination for the Truth and Civility Honor Roll? Email your example to email@example.com, ATTN: Truth and Civility Watch