Bahai News - A seasonal tradition of ecumenical services continues across Oahu

A seasonal tradition of ecumenical services continues across Oahu

By Mary Adamski

"We hope there will be a place at the table for everyone," said the Rev. Thomas Fujita.

The Nuuanu Congregational Church pastor was speaking to an interfaith gathering Wednesday night, expressing not just Thanksgiving plans, but a broader theological theme. He and other panelists explored how their religious philosophies can be open to each other in the pluralistic society.

The church at 2651 Pali Hwy. will be the scene of an Interfaith Thanksgiving Eve Service at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The idea of sharing the holiday is 40 years old in the Nuuanu Valley worshipping community. They started at a time when it was unusual for Catholics to join Protestants at services, let alone having the Buddhists of Honpa Hongwanji Betsuin and the Jewish congregation of Temple Emanu-El join the Christians.

It's a theme that has become popular in modern times when diversity has become a political goal, and never more avidly sought than the past two months as people want to show a unified front in adversity.

This year, the Muslim Association of Hawaii will join the Nuuanu mix, which also includes the Hawaii Baha'i Community, the Brahma Kumaris (Hindu) Meditation Center and First Unitarian Church.

"We each bring a unique flavor and texture," Fujita said, comparing the eclectic roll call to the ingredients in a stew.

Unitarian pastor Mike Young said, "The basic assumption that hovers in back of each of us is that this is the only place where the truth is." He instigated the preview session, attended by 50 people, with the goal of deepening everyone's appreciation of the shared participation coming up Wednesday night.

The message will be offered by Sister Joan Chatfield, a Maryknoll nun who serves as a nongovernment organization representative at the United Nations and was formerly active in ecumenical efforts here.

The 14 congregations represented in the program of music, readings and prayers will also include Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Community Church of Honolulu, Harris United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church, Nuu Lotu Congregational Church, Judd Street United Church of Christ and St. Stephen's Church.

The service is open to the public.

Other ecumenical Thanksgiving services include:

>> Central Oahu Community Service. The Wahiawa Ministers Association will sponsor a 7 p.m. Wednesday celebration of patriotism and thanksgiving at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 1403 California Ave. The Rev. John L. Parish of Wahiawa Christian Church will speak. Food and cash offerings will support the Wahiawa community food banks.

>> Windward Coalition of Churches. Thirteen congregations will gather at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Kailua United Methodist Church. "Give Thanks in All Circumstances" will be the topic of the Rev. Al Miles, head of chaplaincy services at the Queen's Medical Center. Attendees are asked to bring canned goods for the food pantry at St. Anthony's Church, and cash donations will benefit the coalition's Prison Scholarship Fund.

>> Honolulu. Central Union Church, scene of the longest-running ecumenical Thanksgiving Day service, will host 10 congregations and service agencies at a 9 a.m. Thursday program. "Transforming Tragedy into Thankfulness" will be the theme. The Rev. Vaughn Beckman of First Christian Church will speak, and the Honolulu Boy Choir will sing.

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