Community

‘Interfaith Amigos’ to speak at annual peace vigil

The Interfaith Amigos are Imam Jamal Rahman, Pastor Don Mackenzie and Rabbi Ted Falcon.  - Bert Speir photo
The Interfaith Amigos are Imam Jamal Rahman, Pastor Don Mackenzie and Rabbi Ted Falcon.
— image credit: Bert Speir photo

St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods will host the eighth annual Whidbey Interfaith Vigil of Peace and Hope.

This community interfaith gathering, planned for 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, originated with St. Augustine’s Episcopal Peace Fellowship which continues to be the primary organizer of the event.

This year’s interfaith vigil will again feature an interactive presentation by the nationally acclaimed “Interfaith Amigos.” The theme will focus on the possibilities that interfaith dialog can bring actual collaboration to work for peace in the name of religion, instead of violence in the name of religion.

The Interfaith Amigos from Seattle are Imam Jamal Rahman, Rabbi Ted Falcon and Pastor Don Mackenzie. They received national recognition as the subject of a Nov. 24, 2009 New York Times article “Three Clergymen, Three Faiths, One Friendship,” a CBS News report and several NPR interviews.

Rahman is a Sufi Islamic minister at the Interfaith Community Church in Ballard, Falcon is a Reform rabbi who has founded synagogues in Los Angeles, Calif. and Seattle, Mackenzie is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (Congregational) and has recently retired as pastor of the large University Congregational UCC church.

The rabbi and pastor met and formed a friendship during a Christian-Jewish dialog group. Falcon and Rahman met as board members for a new university — the university never took hold but their friendship did.

The three clergymen have given many presentations and workshops throughout the nation and co-authored a book, “Getting to the Heart of Interfaith.” Last year they visited the Holy Land together and the result was another book, “Religion Gone Astray.”

Getting to the heart of ecumenicism for the Interfaith Amigos has required being direct with each other and confronting their disagreements. One example of this directness was to discuss verses in one another’s holy scripture that they found offensive.

At a Tennessee church where the Interfaith Amigos appeared, Rabbi Falcon stated, “We try to honor the truth. This is the truth for you, and this is the truth for me. It may not be reconcilable, but it is important to refuse to make the other the enemy.”

While the primary focus of this year’s Interfaith Vigil of Peace and Hope will be a discussion led by the Interfaith Amigos, the service will also contain Buddhist and Native American spiritual traditions.

The Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton will begin the service with a First Nations smudging ceremony to cleanse the sacred space. Following the cleansing of the sanctuary, short peace and justice excerpts from the Qua’ran, Isaiah from Hebrew Bible, Christian Gospel of Matthew, Buddha in the Dhammapada and the Hindu Taittiriya Upanishad will be read. Dairin of the One Drop Zen Buddhist community of Freeland will offer a meditation and lead the gathering in a sutra. The J Bees from Mukilteo will sing a Buddhist chant: Gate (Gaatay) Gate (Gaatay).

As in previous interfaith vigils, recording artist,Karl Olsen of the Brothers Four will lead the gathering in song.

There will be beverages and cookies in the church parish hall immediately following the service. This will allow for further interfaith discussions with the Interfaith Amigos.

Island churches, faith communities and peace groups involved in the vigil planning and participation are the Tahoma One Drop Zen Buddhist Monastery, Langley United Methodist Church, St. Hubert Catholic Church, Trinity Lutheran, Whidbey Friends Worship Group (Quakers), St. Augustine’s Episcopal Peace Fellowship and Unitarian Universalists.

Although expressing different worship traditions and understandings of the Almighty, the different faiths have a call for justice and peace as a common denominator. The Interfaith Vigil of Peace and Hope is an opportunity for Whidbey residents to share in different worship traditions while experiencing a common desire for peace and justice expressed in prayers, readings and music. It is expected that this event of prayer, music and meditation will again be well attended by the various Whidbey faith communities.

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