Taking a stand for peace
Very Rev. James Matthews
Rabbi Mark Bloom
Very Rev. James Matthews, rector of Oakland's Cathedral of Christ the Light, joined more than a dozen faith leaders representing various denominations and communities in the East Bay, Aug. 26 in standing up for peace during a weekend dominated by protests and counter-protests in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The interfaith gathering, which included representatives from the Sikh, Lutheran, Muslim and Unitarian communities, also included prayers, songs and readings about love and peace from various faith traditions.
He thanked organizers of the event, held at Temple Beth Abraham near Oakland's Lake Merritt, for bringing communities of faith together and for providing an opportunity of helping find common ground with one another.
"In so many of our faith traditions we believe that we are created in the image and likeness of God, that's what we should be about," said Father Matthews to the gathering. "We have to be about life, we have to be about truth, we have to be about justice."
In his opening remarks at the service Rabbi Mark Bloom of Temple Beth Abraham noted that the recent rallies organized by white supremacists and others in Charlottesville, Virginia, and other cities have had troubling repercussions throughout the country. "We have Holocaust survivors in our community," the rabbi said. "When we see marchers carrying torches we get scared."
These events also have implications for the broader community, Rabbi Bloom said, adding that it is not only about the Jewish people but it also impacts people of faith and people of color, "all good people of all kinds."
"The only way to counter this kind of hatred is with love," Rabbi Bloom said.
Rev. Jim Hopkins of Lakeshore Baptist Church added that this gathering of faith leaders comes at a time when "we must all stand together and affirm the truth that we are all sisters and brothers."
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who was also in attendance, expressed her gratitude for the gathering and said that it was a blessing to live in a city where there is acceptance and the "joyful celebration of differences." People of different faiths need one another "during these difficult times," she added. "We cannot fight hate with hate. We must fight hate with love."
In his remarks, which came near the end of the interfaith service Father Matthews also said that this is "a beginning for us to again to come together and bring more folk of faith and goodwill together."
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