On Saturday, April 11, 2020, Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice held its first virtual Peaceful Presence gathering. While we missed seeing each other as embodied, real people, the service, hosted by Eric Sabelman of the Palo Alto Friends Meeting, was beautiful! Through images, readings, prayers and music, we found a true Peaceful Presence. The added plus of such an event is that we can (somewhat) share it easily with all of you now.
Click here to download a PDF file with the slides of all of the images we saw and the readings and prayers we heard. At the end you will also find the sources of music Eric played.
Watch for an update with plans for our May 11 Peaceful Presence.
In the meantime, as the final reading reminded us, we can view the empty streets and parks as "the most remarkable act of global solidarity we may ever witness in our lifetime." (These are the words of a West Belfast Community Worker named Tommy Holland. Go to slide #30 in the PDF to read the whole quotation.)
"The Report (which is available for streaming through Amazon) dramatizes the brutality of the 2002-2007 CIA torture program, as well as the political battle to make the failures of that program public," writes the Rev. Dr. Eileen Altman, a longtime member of MVPJ's steering committee and local pastor.
"Watching The Report is not easy, but it is nonetheless important viewing. Each of us must take seriously our obligation as citizens to take responsibility for the actions of our nation. All of us must push our leaders toward policies and practices which reflect the highest moral and ethical standards of our faith traditions, so that we might become a more perfect union."
Written and directed by Scott Z. Burns.
Click here read Altman's full and powerful Opinion piece in Unbound: an interactive journal on Christian social justice.
Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice hosted a viewing of this film followed by discussion
Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice (MVPJ) has set up a process which will allow us to respond quickly with publicly visible acts of solidarity on behalf of any religious, ethnic, or other targeted communities in our local area which are being threatened, or which have been harmed or violated in some way. Examples of triggers could be receipt of hate mail, defacing of property, threats to the well-being of the community or to a member of the community. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will work with your community to discern the most faithful and safe way to respond. These MVPJ solidarity responses will be faithful, peaceful demonstrations of solidarity and friendship.
When an action is needed, our email subject title will be “IMMEDIATE LOCAL RESPONSE NEEDED,” and the body of the email will include instructions as to where and when to gather.
If your community is targeted or threatened in some way, and you want to ask for a public show of solidarity, or simply discuss this possibility, please contact us through this email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may certainly talk with anyone on the MVPJ steering committee personally if you prefer, however the "email@example.com" email is set up to be checked every day for a quick response.
When we are back to gathering face-to-face, if your community feels it wise to evacuate its premises due to a threat of any kind (such as a bomb threat or threatening graffiti) and needs an alternate space for worship or study on short notice, we have several congregations who are willing to host you if at all possible. You may inquire about this offer through firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you connect to these communities as quickly as possible.
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice Non-Violent Commitment
In all actions that we take, members of Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice commit to the principles of non-violence, and pledge that all their actions will be peaceful, respectful, prayerful and non-violent.
On August 11 local Jews and Quakers joined together to lead a powerful Multifaith Service of Lament and Public Worship with a Concern for Immigrants and Refugees. More than 200 people participated.
The Lament was part of a national effort that connected the 9th of Av (August 11th), the Jewish annual day of mourning over displacement, discrimination and murder of Jews through their history, with the experience of today’s immigrants.
The Quaker Public Worship with a Concern for Immigrants and Refugees invited participants to sit in silence to listen to the Spirit which guides human affairs and inspires both immediate words and future action.
On July 12, 2019 MVPJ hosted a vigil on behalf of immigrants, children and refugees as part of the Lights for Liberty campaign. Click below to see more photographs of the event. Many thanks to Jack Owicki from Pro-Bono Photography who took these wonderful pictures!
God of Compassion, this is not normal.
רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל תִּקוָה
To those we have lost, grant perfect rest under the sheltering presence of your love.
Unity and Solidarity Vigil
Marking the terrifying attack on pedestrians on April 23 in which the police say the driver may have targeted the victims based on their race and his belief they were Muslim, and the horrific shooting at Congregation Chabad Synagogue in Poway, CA on April 27, we gathered in Unity and Solidarity at the site of the April 23 incident. The vigil was a quiet, loving presence to acknowledge the pain and suffering of all people targeted by violence and hate, and to declare unequivocally that all lives are precious and we are all part of the same human family.
Thursday, May 2, was the National Day of Prayer*, and at this time our nation surely needs prayers for healing, respect in our diversity, and peace. Thursday was also Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time to remember victims of the Nazi Holocaust, and to honor all victims of violence and pledge, "Never Again."
In pain and solidarity at yet more violence, Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice offers both words and action. Our words are below, and our actions continue with the Thursday vigil.
Around the world the human family is grieving over the horrific terror attack that killed at least 49 of our Muslim brothers and sisters and wounded dozens more as they worshipped in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. We at Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice share our most heartfelt condolences and sympathy with that community, especially the loved ones of the victims, and offer prayers for what comfort and healing they might find.
We also intensify our commitment to stand against all forms of hatred, drawing from the wellspring of love that animates the world’s faith traditions to triumph over bigotry based on race, ethnicity, or religion. Our traditions require our constant vigilance in confronting injustice, intolerance, division, and other evils with a love that we know ultimately wins.
Amidst the rubble of what was once a beautiful mosque in Afghanistan in 2002, a boy was rocking back and forth reciting a portion of the Qur'an. I sat next to him, reminded of how he resembled children in a Jewish synagogue from my childhood, rocking back and forth as they recited Hebrew prayers. The Imam walked over and lightly touched the boy on the shoulder. He stopped praying and looked up. The Imam told the boy that I was Jewish and asked him, "What do we call Jewish people?" The boy smiled at me and responded "People of the Book." "Very good," the Imam replied as he touched his heart. With a nod from the Imam, the boy resumed reciting prayers. Muslims refer to Jews and Christians as people of the book because we share common sacred texts, the Torah, the Bible, and for Muslims, the Qur'an.
Today, as people of the book, we grieve with our Muslim siblings and the entire human family over the tragic and horrific killings in New Zealand. Apparently inspired by White Supremacist hate exported from the United States, a killer went on a rampage, killing at least 49 people, as they prayed in mosques on Friday. We must stand up against hate and violence with all of our might and do all that we can to change the hearts of those who harbor such hate, while also doing all that we can to prevent such people from being able to cause such mayhem. May we instead be inspired by the smiles of young children, who instead of harboring hate, see our interconnectedness as a human race. We are not born with hate, we are taught hate. Our task, today, tomorrow and every day is doing all that we can to sow the seeds of love, acceptance, and peace, for what we sow we shall reap, Inshallah.
...your dinner guest makes an Islamophobic comment?
...you witness public instances of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Trans or any other form of oppressive interpersonal violence or harassment?
American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) has six thoughtful and helpful tips to counteract anti-Muslim rhetoric in your conversations.
They also have bystander intervention do's and don'ts for how to intervene in public situations while considering the safety of everyone involved.
Both articles provide guidelines that may be contrary to your first instinct, however noble those may be. These are important reads!