Monday, February 2, 2015

Metropolitan Detroit Celebrates Religious Unity in Diversity at the 16th Annual World Sabbath for Religious Reconciliation

The culmination of another successful year of interfaith peacemaking was the World Sabbath for Religious Reconciliation, a Detroit-area tradition since 2000. The World Sabbath is a yearly gathering of over a dozen different faith groups wishing to share prayers and praise music with each other, hosted at a different house of worship each year. On January 25, 2015, it was held in the beautiful main sanctuary of Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills.

Originally held at Christ Church Cranbrook, which it outgrew several years ago, the World Sabbath was founded by Reverend Rodney Reinhart as a way for Detroit area congregations of various faiths to show their solidarity with each other for the shared goal of increasing inter-religious cooperation. It also gives faith groups, who each have their own separate holy days, the opportunity to share a holy day in common.

Reinhart used the energy from his passionate opposition to wars and other conflicts carried out in God’s name to found this wonderful event, which takes an interfaith committee the whole year to plan. This makes it much more than a once-per-year event: People of several different faiths meet regularly throughout the year to work toward the goal of showcasing the efforts of their congregations to celebrate how their differences make for a richer faith and cultural experience for everyone, in an area of the country that has a long history of both fierce segregation and great diversity.

Faiths represented by prayer, music, or dance this year were Judaism, Islam, Sikhism (Sikhi), Hinduism, Christianity, Native American spirituality, Buddhism, the Baha'i Faith, Unificationism (a religion of reconciliation from Japan), Jainism, and Zoroastrianism. Other faiths have also been represented in previous years, and the next World Sabbath may include faiths which are new to the event or which simply didn’t participate this year.

Another feature of each year’s World Sabbath is the presenting of the World Sabbath Peace Award, which this year was given to Robert (Bob) Bruttell. Bruttell is Chairman and President of the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, and is also involved in and has helped co-found other interfaith initiatives. He’s been the recipient of other interfaith-related awards, and been recognized by DTE Energy and the THAW program for his support of their initiatives to help needy Detroiters with their home energy bills during the winter.

Other mainstays of the World Sabbath are the Interfaith Pledge said by clergy and other faith-community-leaders present, the Responsive Prayer for Peace led by one of the leaders of the host congregation, and the singing of the song “We Are the Children of Peace” by the children who participated by making peace banners to wave at the event.

The emphasis of the World Sabbath is and always has been the involvement of children, youth, and young adults in interfaith and intercultural education and peacemaking. Children and youths say the prayers, sing the songs, and perform the dances at the World Sabbath, and leading up to the event they are brought together to create peace banners. In previous years these banners have been sewn into quilts, which now number seven or eight, that are displayed at the event and available to be borrowed by area congregations who request them to display.

It was announced, amid cheers from the audience, that the World Sabbath Committee decided to change the date from late January to early November, so attendees won’t have to drive, some from long distances, to attend in the worst weather of the year. The next World Sabbath will be November 8, 2015, at Fort Street Presbyterian Church in Detroit.

Further adding to the colorfulness of the event was the bagpipe recessional, this year led by student Roland Hill of Harrison High School in full traditional Scottish regalia. An afterglow in the social hall concluded the event.


Image: “Dove Ascending” by Karla Joy Huber, 2007, Prismacolor marker and Sharpie marker

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