Clergy and ministry leaders from several denominations and faith-based organizations gathered on August 18th at the Interfaith Prayer Breakfast held at the Northern Virginia Family Church’s Learning Center in Fairfax, VA.
We began with prayers from several faith leaders. Bishop John Allen, Sr., Founder of the Greater Pentecostal Temple of Christ, Fairfax, VA represented Christianity. Minister Amar Nath Gupta, Senior Priest, Rajdhani Mandir Temple Chantilly represented Hinduism, and Brother Mohamad Rasool Tahiry of the Islamic Center of Culpeper represented Islam. The clergy prayed for greater unity and mutual respect to counter the social and spiritual forces that try to divide us.
Mrs. Michiko Yokoyama, Coordinator for ACLC’s Virginia Chapter briefed the participants about ACLC activities since last year when the co-founder, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon invited 200 clergy from America to Korea, and then two months later, invited 300 more clergy to a huge rally for peace. More than 80,000 attended from around the world. Dr. Moon called on the religious leaders to pray for the sake of peace and for the reunification of the Korean peninsula. Mrs. Yokoyama said it was Dr. Moon’s pronouncement of “Peace Begins with Me” that inspired her to renew her commitment to do interfaith outreach to clergy, including today’s prayer breakfast.
Speakers for the event included Fr. Bayo Adrian, Community Pastor, Richmond International Family Center, VA, who introduced the mission and activities of ACLC, the host organization, and Muhammad Irfan Qureshi, Community leader of Islamic prayer who explained the meaning of Eid al-Adha.v
Fr. Bayo said, “We must love each other as our neighbor and recognize that we are each a child of God and therefore a member of God’s family.” The essence of ACLC, he explained, is all about the family. He invited all the participants, regardless of their faith tradition, to join hands with ACLC and celebrate together the joy of God.
Muhammad Irfan Qureshi said that Ibrahim (Abraham) was “not a Christian nor a Jew; he was a firm believer and obedient to his God.” Eid al-Adha celebrates the willingness of both the father and son to make the ultimate sacrifice in obedience to God’s command. He also described the holiday tradition of dividing food into three parts: one third for the poor; one third for relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third for the family.
Ms. Tayyaba Samina, who emigrated from Peshawar, Pakistan 17 years ago, shared her original composition written for the occasion, entitled, “Light.” The first stanza reads, “I am the Christian, I am the Jew, I am the Muslim, I am the Hindu, But – I love u all, Do you love me too?” Her daughter, Maryam, joined her on stage and she too recited an original composition entitled “Thank you God.”
Entertainment was provided by gospel saxophonist, Minister Ginger Cornwell, who summoned the presence of the Lord with her sacred saxophone and music.
Dr. Zufiquar Kazmi, Founder of the Commongrounds gave a brief report on his recent meetings with the Imam of the Holy Kaaba mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and with other Imams. He emphasized to the Imam the need for interfaith unity and dialogue to which all the Imams wholeheartedly agreed.
The last part of the program was dedicated to the Blessing Toast. William and Donna Selig, the officiating couple, invited everyone to partake of the holy juice, symbolizing reaffirmation and renewal of our commitment to God and our spouses. Rev. Werner Seubert, Pastor of the Northern Virginia Family Church, concluded the spirit-filled morning with words of encouragement and a closing prayer.
The Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, organized by the ACLC Virginia chapter and sponsored by the local chapters of the Universal Peace Federation and the Women’s Federation for World Peace, seeks to bring together men and women of different faith traditions to experience the power of common prayer.
Contributed by Dr. William Selig