Interfaith Service Offers Sampling of Austin's Religions

November 24, 2008

Author: Patrick George

Source: The Austin American-Statesman

With the swelling bass note of the Jewish ram horn, the soulful Muslim call to prayer and the chiming of a Christian bell choir, nearly 800 people at First United Methodist Church on Sunday knew it was time for Thanksgiving in Austin.

For 24 years, Austinites have come together for one big service around Thanksgiving that samples the traditions and beliefs of religions from around the world. This year, the Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration was held at First United, on Lavaca Street near the state Capitol, and its seats were nearly full with worshippers from various faiths.

"This is quite an event," said the Rev. John McMullen, the church's senior pastor. "It's a great opportunity to be with people who may worship God differently but still worship the same God. I just hope we can hold all of them."

Tom Spencer, CEO of Austin Area Interreligious Ministries, the event organizer, said the service is anticipated each year by many people.

"We have a faithful audience," Spencer said. "It's something people really look forward to."