Bahai News -- The Star Press - Inter-faith group offers variety of prayers Saturday, May 3, 2003

Inter-faith group offers variety of prayers

Shailla Gupta (center) glances at Manurita Sarin while Madhu Sarin looks on as the group prepares to share a prayer from the Hindu faith at the Interfaith prayer service Thursday in the Muncie city hall auditorium.
Joe Krupa / The Star Press

MUNCIE - Prayers from a diverse group of religions - even an expression of hope from atheists - were offered Thursday at the second of two local National Day of Prayer services.

The second service, forced by rain to be conducted inside the auditorium at city hall, was created after organizers of a primarily Christian service declined to allow Jewish and Islamic prayers.

Thomas Perchlik, local Unitarian Universalist minister, helped to plan the second, inter-faith event. Perchlik indicated he hoped that separate services would not be necessary again.

"I hope that next year there will be only one central civic event that draws all of us together," Perchlik said.

Perchlik told the crowded auditorium that the service was "not a religious ceremony and not a worship service."

"We will not say anything about the truth or falsehood of any religious belief," Perchlik said. "First and most importantly, we're celebrating tolerance."

After the Ball State University Singers performed America the Beautiful, Jack Anderson, a chaplain for the Muncie Police Department, offered a Christian prayer he had given at the earlier service.

Shallia Gupta and a small group performed a Hindu prayer, first in Sanskrit and then in English.

Larry Francer of Temple Beth-El prayed in English and Hebrew - "the original language of the Bible," he reminded the crowd - and Faiz Rahaman of Muncie's mosque offered a prayer from the Koran.

Kenneth Crouch of Eden United Church of Christ led a prayer, followed by Teal Mercaeant of the Pagan faith. Sarah Mahboubi offered a Bahai prayer.

Alice Bennett, an atheist, expressed hope for peace and tolerance, followed by an inter-faith singing group performing the song Swimming to the Other Side.

George Wolfe performed what he called an inter-faith psalm, and Julia Corbett, a Buddhist, spoke, followed by a prayer from Woody Nobblitt of First Baptist Church.

Contact news reporter Keith Roysdon at 213-5828.

©Copyright 2003, The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana, US)

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