Faiths unite for annual Thanksgiving celebration

A spirited cello-flute duet greeted a crowd of about 100 people during the Glendale Religious Leaders Assn.’s multi-faith Thanksgiving celebration Tuesday night.

The musicians — cellist Elaine Klemzak and flutist Thea King — were members of the Baha’i Faith in Glendale, performing inside of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as Baptists, Armenian-Apostolics, Jews, Mormons, Scientologists and members of other religious groups found their seats.

That portrait of diversity is what drives the annual Thanksgiving celebration, which brings together people from distinct faith communities in Glendale, said Frank Brougher, associate pastor of First Baptist Church.

“The emphasis is that we have much more in common than what makes us different,” he said.

The ceremony melded the prayers, rituals and traditions of different faiths, beginning with the sounding of the shofar, or ram’s horn, which in the Jewish tradition signifies a community coming together.

“May the sounds of the shofar we hear tonight rally us from across the community and from different faith traditions to work together for peace and understanding against the forces that would divide us,” Maggie Wineburgh-Freed of Temple Sinai said before she sounded the shofar.

Participants listened to prayers from the Methodist, Baha’i and Muslim traditions, as well as the words of a Theodore Roosevelt speech and the original Thanksgiving Proclamation, written by William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony.

The spirit behind the event — and the purpose of the Glendale Religious Leaders Assn. — is to promote unity and understanding across religious lines, said Al Garcilazo, chaplain at the Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

“It’s our goal to be a positive force in the community by hosting these types of events. . . . Each of us makes a unique contribution to the moral fabric of this city,” he said.

Guest speaker Lance Miller, president of The Way to Happiness Foundation and member of the Church of Scientology, described Thanksgiving as something that grows in richness and diversity as more people bring their favorite foods to the table.

“Amongst all the different religions that we have here . . . I feel like there is so much we have in common as human beings,” he said.

As a part of the celebration, attendees also collected canned goods to benefit Path Achieve Glendale.

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