24th annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service brings community together in the spirit of unity, gratitude and hopeDec 01, 2023 12:32PM ● By Collette Hayes
V. Rev. George Nikas, Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, and Mayor Rob Dahle welcome Utah House of Representative Carol Spackman Moss to the Thanksgiving Interfaith Service. (Collette Hayes/City Journals)
The ethereal sound of the adhan, an Islamic call to prayer, recited by youth speaker, Aadam Abdullah Shakir, filled the chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints informing an interdenominational congregation it was time to stand together in prayer. The deep reverence of the adhan set the tone for the 24th annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service held on Nov. 12.
Interfaith Council Chair, Rev. Brigette Weier, pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, and organizer for Voices for Utah Children, provided the opening service remarks. Rev. Weier began by thanking the 21 members of the Interfaith Council, the contributors and participants of the evening events for coming together to serve humanity in the spirit of unity, gratitude and hope.
“Each year, we gather in November as a community of diverse faiths in the spirit of gratitude and hope,” Weier said. “We know that gratitude matters in our lives. For me, it is this evening which optimizes the heart of gratitude which is community—a community of diversity and complexity. Gratitude springs out in the recognition of our interconnectedness, our relationships and our hope. Hope for a future of wholeness, of healing and the flourishing of hope in our world. Welcome to community. Welcome to hope. Welcome to an evening of gratitude.”
Mayor Rob Dahle offered his appreciation to Rev. Weier and the Interfaith Council for organizing the service. In his remarks, he shared a proclamation prepared by the Holladay City Council recognizing Thanksgiving as a unifying holiday for people of all faiths and a time to come together to celebrate the common values and virtues inherent in various faith traditions.
“Over the years I’ve always loved this evening service because it’s the time we shepherd in the holiday season. Due to the events going on around the world, I think we all can acknowledge that it’s been a rough couple of years. We always have seasons for gratitude. We need to be reminded of that sometimes, and that is why we gather here tonight to think about all the things we have to be grateful for and to hear some words of inspiration as we enter into the Holiday Season.
“Our forefathers migrated to this country to escape religious persecution and to become champions of religious freedom and individual liberty. Whereas, giving thanks in the midst of unique challenges we have experienced as a nation the past few years provides us with a model of empathy and understanding towards all.”
Keynote speaker, Dr. Sidni Shorter, moved to Utah in April of 2022 to assume the role of CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce. She is the CEO of Execute Now! an outsourced finance and accounting firm dedicated to helping organizations build a solid financial foundation, and she is recipient of the 2023 CEO of the year award. According to Dahle, Shorter began her entrepreneurial journey at the early age of seven and entered college at age 15. She has written, produced and directed three community productions in the Washington, D.C. area and is a four-time cancer survivor..
Shorter delivered her remarks on gratitude, grace, peace and love to a captivated audience.
“We are all a masterpiece in the making,” Shorter said. “I want to share with you some things that have been placed on my heart. One thing that I firmly believe is that we enter the world with the components, the attributes and the ingredients, to become a masterpiece. We are the canvas of humanity to both experience and to grace, gratitude, peace and love. That’s what makes us unique as human beings. We all have it. We can all give it, and we can all create it. It all comes from inside. It’s what I call paint by numbers. The number of seconds, minutes, hours, days as we live out our lives through encounters, education experiences, explorations, evaluating choices, and making decisions, we will fill our canvas over time. Grace and peace are in our hands.”
According to Shorter the ability and capacity to love is the DNA of our humanity. The base color for each number in an individual’s paint by number masterpiece canvas must contain love.
“I implore each of us to lead with love,” Shorter said. “And ensure that humanity is a reality for everyone. Beautiful, flaws and all, imperfections with each unique purpose and created to bring its beauty into this world to make it a better place. During this season, I encourage you and implore that you cultivate and share your gifts of gratitude, grace, peace and love, and remember that you each are a masterpiece in the making.”
Under the direction of Cecil Sullivan, the Cottonwood High School Madrigals provided two musical selections setting a tone of peace and grace during the evening service. Madrigals is a highly-selective, mixed choir of young men and women grades 11-12.
Each year, the Interfaith Council highlights a service organization that seeks the good of those in the community. In her remarks Diane Mackin, president of the nonprofit organization, Assistance League of SLC, highlighted the nine programs offered by the nonprofit whose goal is to improve the lives of thousands of local residents. The organization served over 160 children in need of emergency dental assistance, provided 533 assault survivor kits for women who were victims of assault and rape and 5,000 bags of clothing for elementary-age children.
“This year we were able to give five student scholarships to the University of Utah and seven scholarships to Salt Lake Community College for full tuition and fees,” Mackin said. “Seventy percent of our money comes through our Thrift Store located at 2090 East 3300 South. Eighty-five cents of every dollar earned will go back to the community. I’m really proud of our volunteers and how hard they work.”
If you would like further information about the Assistance League of SLC, or would like to make a donation to the organization, visit their website at: www.alslc.org. λ