South Bay Interfaith
Circle of Hands: People of Faith Respond in Solidarity
At the end of Ramadan and on the eve of 9/11, members of the diverse religious congregations of Silicon Valley gathered together Friday afternoon to "A Circle of Hands," a time to dedicate themselves once again to the work of building a community of peace, justice and cooperation.
The setting was most appropriate- Jim McEntee Plaza in front of the Santa Clara County Building in San Jose, named for the man who established the County Human Relations Commission and worked continually with the varied ethnic, religious, and civic groups within the city to bring about understanding and appreciation.
Distressed by the increasing news of anti-Muslim rhetoric, demonstrations against Mosques, and even personal attacks on Muslims, the people of Silicon Valley determined rather to speak out about the cherished role that Islam and Muslims have had in our midst, and to affirm our connections one to another.
The gathering, organized by the Council of Churches of Santa Clara County, the Interfaith Council on Economics and Justice, and American Muslim Voice opened with a bell chant offered by the monks of the Chung Tai Zen Center, followed by introductory remarks that included Supervisor Dave Cortese. Supervisor Cortese was a member of the delegation that went to to the meeting of the Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia last December to represent Silicon Valley as it was welcomed as a member of the Parliament's Partner City Network.
Prayers and scripture readings from Jewish, Jain, Protestant, Catholic, and Buddhist traditions then followed. In front of the platform was a table with copies of sacred texts from a number of different traditions-- Bibles, Qur'ans, and Torahs-- side by side, along with Jain scriptures and others.
Imam Zaid Shakir, Co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley; Shafath Syed of the South Bay Islamic Association, and Imam Mubasher Ahmad, from the Ahmadiyya Community of Milpitas, brought greetings and thanks from the Muslim community, and reminded the assembly of the contributions that Muslims have made to the community together with neighbors of different faiths.
Ben Field of the South Bay Labor Council and Delorme McKee-Stovall, Manager of the Office of Human Relations, Santa Clara County described ongoing efforts to build bridges within the varied communities of Silicon Valley to the betterment of all.
Then, Samina Sundas of American Muslim Voice invited attendees to gather around the table and join hands. Rev. D. Andrew Kille of Interfaith Space, Ann McEntee, widow of Jim McEntee, and Rowan Fairgrove from Covenant of the Goddess led a community affirmation, punctuated by the gathered group's response: "We are one family. Together we will stand."
- We bring the wisdom of our religious heritage—our scriptures, our traditions, our teachers and sages, our ancestors, our devotion, our faithfulness and prayers.
- We bring a hospitality that opens space in our hearts, giving us a willingness to welcome the “other” to make the stranger a guest, and to turn the guest into a friend.
- We bring a commitment to serve one another and the community in which we live, to seek justice for all, to ensure that not one of our neighbors is pushed aside, trampled, forgotten, or abused.
The service closed with the Muslim call to evening prayer and a closing chant from the Zen Community, but the conversations went well on into the evening here in the Valley of the Heart's Delight.
Thanks to Michael Sung for the photos.
See the flyer for the event.