World Interfaith Harmony Assembly

Hosted by Bethany Baptist Church, Syracuse’s first annual interfaith assembly commemorating UN World Interfaith Harmony Week took place Jan. 30, 2011 and was organized by Women Transcending Boundaries and InterFaith Works of Central New York.

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Hands of children and elders alike reached across the aisles of Bethany Baptist Church as approximately 300 people celebrated the start of World Interfaith Harmony Week. This celebration was held in accord with a United Nations resolution designating the first week of February as a time to promote understanding among faith traditions and honor differences while creating community.(

Much gratitude is expressed to the following:

The Reverend Phil Turner and  members of Bethany Baptist Church for hosting this event.

The choir members of Bethany Baptist Church

The Reverend William Redfield of Trinity Episcopal Church, Fayetteville

The Reverend Dr. Tiffany Steinwert, Dean of Syracuse University Hendricks Chapel

Dances of Universal Peace, Syracuse Circle

Islamic Society of Central New York

Sheila Muters and singers of First Church of Christ Scientist

Holy Trinity/St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church

Dr. Joan Burstyn of Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas

Center for New Americans and Bhutanese Dancers

Terra Harmatuk of the Syracuse Pagan Community

Ralph Singh of the Sikh tradition

Trinity Episcopal Church, Fayetteville

The Zen Center of Syracuse

Baha’i Faith Community

Dr. Joan Hillsman

The Reverend Tanya Atwood Adams

Suddenly, it seemed that peace still has a chance

editor’s note: This is a letter to the Post Standard sent by WTB Advisory Board member Judy Antoine:

To the Editor:
If you did not attend the World Interfaith Harmony Assembly of Central New York this past Sunday at Bethany Baptist Church, you missed out on a wonderful event.

It was sponsored by InterFaith Works of CNY and Women Transcending Boundaries. People of different faiths and cultures gathered in this beautiful building to experience the holiness of many faiths and traditions.

The Bethany Baptist Choir welcomed us with a soulful, joyous gospel song that had us all swaying our hips and moving to its rhythm. Songs were shared from various Christian traditions.

Members of the Bhutanese community blessed the floor they sat on by chanting, playing music and dancing. The Islamic Society of Central New York brought three youths who shared song, prayer and poetry. My eyes filled with tears as I heard the Arabic of ancient times chanted by such a young boy.

Buddhists, Baha’is, Jews, pagans, Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, Quakers — all came together, sharing their faith through their stories. Suddenly, we all did not seem so different. Suddenly, it seemed like peace had a chance.

Aren’t we lucky to live in a city like Syracuse, where we can gather together to bring harmony to our world?

For a report in the Syracuse Post-Standard, click here.