Faith-Based Communities Gather for ‘Prayer for Peace’ Service

January 8, 2009

Author: Julia Torres-Barden

Source: Midlothian Exchange

President of the Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs Imad Damaj, called his faith brothers, Rev. R. Charles Grant at Bon Air Presbyterian Church and Rabbi Ben Romer of Congregation Or Ami, to discuss the current military conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip on New Year’s Eve. The three faith leaders agreed that their communities needed to come together to show solidarity in the face of this most recent crisis in the Middle East resulting in more than 500 Palestinians and dozens of Israelis being killed. Tensions in the region continued to mount as many in the international community attempt to restore a delicate ceasefire in the region while new negotiations for peace are sought.

“I called Rev. Grant and Rabbi Romer and said to them, ‘I am on the side of co-existence and I know you are too,’ ” Damaj said.

The three community leaders agreed that an interfaith prayer service was needed to continue the dialogue among the local area Muslims, Christians and Jews.

“Whatever happens in the Middle East has local implications,” Damaj said. “If we don’t talk, then friendships among us will suffer. What is not said, meaning the silence, can be as hurtful because it can lead to mistrust and dissension. We are here tonight because, no matter what the root causes, we deeply mourn the suffering. We are not here to blame each other or talk politics. We’re here to tell our leaders enough is enough.”

The call to pray for peace was answered by an overflow crowd of more than 100 people attending the prayer service held at Bon Air Presbyterian Church, located on Huguenot Road. More than 18 faith leaders were in attendance, representing diverse segments of Richmond’s spiritual community including Imams, Rabbis, the Catholic Diocese, the Greek Orthodox Church and pastors from local Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopalian churches.