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Holladay Journal

Communities gather for the 23rd annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service

Dec 02, 2022 01:27PM ● By Collette Hayes

By Collette Hayes | [email protected]

Historically religions can be the source of division in the world, but they also are perfectly positioned to be a source of unity and connection in the world as well. In a service of gratitude and thanksgiving, The Holladay Interfaith Council held its annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service Nov. 19 bringing together a large interdenominational congregation to pray, to worship and as a united faith community to provide service for those in need.

     Many years ago, pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag tribe gathered in a three-day festival celebrating the autumnal harvest. The festivities centered around gratitude for the bountiful harvest and thankfulness to the Wampanoag for their guidance and tools in teaching the pilgrims basic survival skills such as how to fish, how to hunt and how to plant crops that would thrive in the Massachusetts soil. Similar to the Wampanoag tribe reaching out to the pilgrims in support, The Holladay Interfaith Council’s vision and purpose is to reach out and unite various faiths in the common goals of fostering understanding, support and cooperation within the various faiths creating an international community that stands together in celebrating the harvest of unity, friendship and the success of the community.

     According to Christine Sharer, chair of The Holladay Interfaith Service Council, eight different faith communities currently participate in the organization: Holladay United Church of Christ, Congregation Kol Ami, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Islamic Community, Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and the Baha’i Faith. All of the faith communities during the service had a role to play in speaking to the theme of gratitude.

     “We believe that we have more in common than what separates us as churches,” Sharer said. “There isn’t a faith anywhere that I know of that doesn’t have something similar to the Golden Rule at the heart of it. Love is at the center of all of our faiths. It asks for unity and it asks for peace. Another thing we have in common is a heavy sense of gratitude and a response to the world with gratitude rather than a response of anger.”

     Holladay Mayor Rob Dahle offered his gratitude and appreciation to The Holladay Interfaith Council and to Sharer for organizing the interfaith service. He presented a proclamation prepared by the Holladay City Council which placed emphasis on Thanksgiving being a unifying holiday.

     “This service has always been about gratitude,” Dahle said. “I’m so thankful for our Interfaith Council. In these troubled times they remind us that we have more in common than we have differences. We recognize that our forefathers immigrated to this land to escape religious persecution and became champions of religious freedom and individual liberty. We come together to celebrate the common values and virtues inherent in various faiths and traditions.”

     Each year, The Interfaith Service has a focus to benefit a nonprofit organization. In her remarks Amy Dott Harmer, the executive director of Utah Refugee Connection, encouraged members of the congregation to help fill gaps in services for the 65,000 refugees that now call Utah their home. She closed her remarks with a quote by Michael Lewis highlighting responsibility to the unlucky.

     “My hope is that we will take the collective amazement that we have felt here tonight and do something with that energy,” Harmer said. “You may be inspired to help a refugee, the homeless, a neighbor or someone in need of care and comfort. ‘Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.’ Refugees are some of the most unlucky people I know simply because of where they were born.”

If you belong to a faith community and have an interest in joining The Holladay Interfaith Council, contact Sharer at [email protected].