Bahai News - Service draws faiths to pray together

Service draws faiths to pray together

Members of divergent faith communities gathered Wednesday night in Topeka to mourn the loss of the dead and injured in Tuesday's terrorist attacks and to pray for peace in the days ahead.

The interfaith service attracted 106 people at First Christian Church- Disciples of Christ, 1880 S.W. Gage.

"We are very sorry it takes an event such as this to bring us together," said Dr. Jim McCollough, senior minister at First Christian Church, "but it is good to be together tonight."

McCollough said attendees crossed the lines of their individual faith communities in coming together on Wednesday night, hoping to find comfort and support through prayer and the acknowledgment that "God is the source of our power and strength."

Said McCollough: "Even though it seems like evil is the most awesome and powerful force on the planet, it is not."

He said police officers, firefighters and medical personnel were valiant in their response to the tragedy and offered a prayer on their behalf.

Dr. Ashraf Sufi, representing the Islamic Center of Topeka, said Americans from different faiths and backgrounds shared in the sorrow and grief the victims' families and loved ones were experiencing.

Those responsible for Tuesday's attacks weren't following the teachings of the world's great faith traditions, Sufi added: "All great religions teach respect, affection and love for all human beings."

In response to the tragedy, Sufi said, people from different faith backgrounds want to respond by providing comfort, medical care and financial assistance to the victims.

The Rev. Susan Candea, pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, said people of faith must not let the tragic events that unfolded Tuesday dampen their resolve to promote peace throughout the world.

"It is difficult to know what we can do in the face of such horrific tragedy and devastation," she said. "These kinds of events leave us feeling so helpless and hopeless, wondering how in the world we can make a difference.

"But as people of faith, we can make a difference. We can stand together to remind the world that evil and violence do not have the last word, that there is a God who continues to call us to his love, peace and compassion."

Also participating in the service were Duane Herrmann, of the Baha'i community of Topeka, Rabbi Lawrence P. Karol, of Temple Beth Sholom, and the Rev. Norbert Lickteig, of Christ the King Catholic Church.

Besides prayers and hymns, the service included the distribution of small white ribbons, which attendees wore as a show of solidarity and support.

"Any time the different faiths can get together is wonderful," said Diane Caudle, a member of Seabrook Congregational United Church of Christ, after the service. "It made a bigger impact because there have been so many faiths and peoples who were touched by this tragedy."

In addition to the interfaith program, other local congregations opened their doors for special prayer services to honor victims of Tuesday's attacks.

Phil Anderson can be reached at (785) 295-1195 or

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