San Bernardino Festival Centers on Religious Diversity, Peace

February 11, 2007

Author: Bettye Wells Miller

Source: The Press-Enterprise

SAN BERNARDINO - Under threatening skies Sunday afternoon, more than 300 residents enjoyed dances, chants and songs reflecting the community's religious diversity, then prayed for peace in their city.

The Interfaith Festival for Peace in Our Community, sponsored by the San Bernardino Clergy Association and the city Human Relations Commission, drew a diverse crowd and demonstrated the influence that a united religious community can have on reducing violence in the city, Mayor Pat Morris said.

"If they can hold hands and pray together, we can do no less," Morris said of members of the city's myriad religious congregations.

Religious leaders can set the example for respecting people whose beliefs are different from their own, said the Rev. Bronica Martindale, who co-hosted the afternoon program.

"If we model respect, we'll bring peace," said Martindale, an associate minister at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. "It's agreeing to disagree and focus on our commonalities. ... Why did God create a rainbow? Diversity is beautiful."

The 90-minute program featured recitations of Scripture, chants, singing or dancing representing Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon, Catholic and Protestant congregations.