THE OKLAHOMA CITY
UNITED FOR CHRISTCHURCH PRAYER VIGIL
Several of St. David’s parishioners and clergy gathered with other
Episcopalians and various faith groups on Sunday, March 17th at the Islamic
Society of Greater Oklahoma City for the “United for Christchurch” Prayer
Vigil. The Prayer Vigil gave us, as part of the local faith community, the
opportunity to support our Muslim brothers and sisters in response to the
shooting deaths of fifty Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand
on the previous Friday. Representatives from Islam, Judaism, Christianity,
and the Bahai’ faith; as well as numerous advocacy groups, comprised the
panel which shared their support and prayers during the vigil. Afterward, all
of us gathered in the mosque for an Islamic prayer service held in
remembrance of the fifty Muslim victims.
Love, unity, and support were the major themes of the presentations at the
Prayer Vigil. One of the first speakers, engaged us with the question: “What
can we do to actively oppose hate?” Each of the following speakers responded
to this question. Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City Imam Imad Enchassi
stated in his opening remarks that the supportive turnout of over 400 people
at the gathering, was an excellent illustration of how the response of love
was winning that day. Another panel member emphasized the importance of
unity, by quoting Thomas Merton who once said that “the deepest level of
communication is not communication, but communion.” An additional speaker
shared her experience at the Temple B’nai Israel Prayer Vigil held last
October in response to the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
Everyone who attended was given a rock inscribed with a different word of
hope. Her rock was printed with the word “WE.” She explained that she as “me”
cannot fight the existing hate alone, but all of us as “WE” can. At the end
of the Prayer Vigil, we were reminded that each one of us is important. And
as long as people continue to love and support each other, hate will not have
the final word. Love will have the last word.
We, from St. David’s, left the Prayer Vigil feeling strongly inspired and
greatly impressed by the outpouring of love and support shown by our local
faith and advocacy groups for our Muslim brothers and sisters. As a visible
united force, WE will be more effective in opposing the existing hate we
encounter. Love WILL have the last word.
Rev. Beth Bell and Rev. Mary Ann Coffman Photo info from left to right: The Rev. Beth Bell, St. David's, The Rev. Mary
Ann Coffman, St. David's, The Rev. Janie Kirt Morris, The Rev. Joseph Alsay,
St. Augustine's, Imam Imad Enchassi, Islamic Society of Greater OKC, The Rev.
Larry T. Crudup, Tabernacle Baptist Church, and The Rev. Israel Hogue,
924 N. Robinson I Oklahoma City, OK 73102