Interfaith celebration set in Port Townsend on Sunday

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Nearly a dozen different faith groups are scheduled to participate this weekend in a celebration of the gratitude that provides the basis for the Thanksgiving season.

“A Weaving of Community Gratitude” will be from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Sunday in the upstairs meeting room at the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St., Port Townsend.

“This is a very special time of year,” said Teren MacLeod, a member of the local Baha’i community,

“This is a time to celebrate gratitude, and we celebrate it with diversity and incredible grace.

“It also gives us an opportunity to learn spirituality on many levels.”

Sunday’s event doesn’t include food because it would add another level of complexity, said St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Pastor Elizabeth Bloch.

Food bank donation

The event is free, but participants are asked to bring a contribution of nonperishable food, a household need or a monetary donation for the Port Townsend Food Bank.

Since 2010, when a planned interfaith celebration for Thanksgiving was canceled because of snow, a loose collection of clergy has put on two interfaith celebrations per year, geared to Earth Day in the spring and Thanksgiving in the fall.

Interfaith connections are strong at these times, said Rabbinic and Interfaith Chaplain Stephanie Reith, a member of the Bet Shira Jewish community.

“It is a gathering of different faith and spiritual groups to share with each other and the community their different ways of worship,” Reith said.

“This isn’t a religious holiday but is an opportunity for people of all faiths to say what they are grateful for, and it is so exhilarating to be drawn together in this way and get to know each other in ways that did not happen before,” she added.

Variety of faiths

Along with Baha’i and Judaism, faiths represented include Incan, Quaker, Unitarian, Peninsula United Church of Christ, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Unity.

All local churches and faith groups have been invited, Bloch said, adding that some have declined.

Those who have chosen to participate are enriched, Bloch said.

“During these celebrations, we have learned more and more how to express our feelings in ways that aren’t watered down for anyone else,” Bloch said.

The event will begin with the different calls to worship for each faith, such as the Shofar (Judaism), bells (Christianity) and conch shells (Native American).

They first sound separately and then simultaneously culminate in a joyous noise, Bloch said.

The service will include readings and prayers, chants and hymns, and an opportunity for attendees to offer their own personal words of gratitude.

This will lead up to the performance of a specially written tale of gratitude performed by storyteller Brian Rohr.

“These celebrations have an incredible, gracious open-heartedness,” MacLeod said.

“People bring their very best and create a sense of being unified that will transfer to the community,” MacLeod added.

For more information, phone St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 360-385-0770.

________

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 13. 2012 5:52PM
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