Bahai News -- The Telegraph - The power of prayer Friday, May 02, 2003

The power of prayer


Staff photo by Don Himsel
Laurie Toupin, president of the First Church of Christ, Scientist holds a hymnal and book of prose by Mary Baker Eddy while listening to Rabbi Mark Finkel of Temple Beth Abraham at Thursday's National Day of Prayer event at City Hall in Nashua. Representatives of the city's faiths observed the day with words and prayers.
NASHUA – Clouds threatened rain. Cars idled in midday traffic. But neither the weather nor the noise discouraged the 20 or so people who gathered on the front steps of City Hall on Thursday to observe the 51st National Day of Prayer.

It was an observance that drew clergy and practitioners from Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Baha’i faiths, a ceremony drawing on the richness and diversity of traditions and languages to express a common hope: that city, state and national leaders will be guided to do what is best for their constituents, and that peace and social justice will triumph over war, economic deprivation and evil.

“We have a lot to be seeking divine guidance for our leaders,” said William Manseau, a pastoral psychotherapist who serves as president of the Nashua Area Interfaith Council.

The Interfaith Council sponsored the observance. Similar meetings were held Thursday evening in Milford and Hudson.

Outside the front door of City Hall, Mayor Bernie Streeter read a proclamation endorsing the Day of Prayer. Then he introduced the speakers: the Rev. James Chaloner of First Church of Nashua; Rabbi Mark Finkel of Temple Beth Abraham; Laurie Toupin of First Church of Christ, Scientist; Maj. Carl Carvill of The Salvation Army; the Rev. Norman Simoneau, former chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital and Southern New Hampshire Medical Center; the Rev. Stephen Edington of the Unitarian Universalist Church; Shuja Saleem of the Islamic Society of Greater Manchester; and Elda DiLorenzo of the Baha’i faith.

Leaders of the various faith communities were invited to pray for governmental leaders. Many of the prayers called for world peace, for protection of U.S. troops in Iraq and for comfort for families of servicemen and women who were killed during the war. There were also prayers asking for help for individuals and families affected by joblessness, a problem that continues to grow.

“The needs are overwhelming,” prayed the Rev. Steve Murray of Trinity Baptist Church. “More than ever, we need to look to you.”

Edington spoke of “the one who is the giver and sustainer of all life, and who is known by many names among the peoples of the world,” while other speakers invoked the names of Allah, Adonai, Jesus and God.

For about a half-hour, while traffic crawled along Main Street, participants prayed for universal peace and understanding, ending with a “Litany for the Nation” led by Manseau.

“Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work begun here. Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice, and to abolish poverty and crime,” Manseau recited. “Guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness.”

Then in unison, in words that resonated across religious, racial and spiritual lines, came the audience response: “Amen. Go in peace.”

Hattie Bernstein can be reached at 594-6439

©Copyright 2003, The Telegraph (NH, USA)

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