On the evening of Oct. 14, in the historic Trinity Cathedral, clergy, choirs and Miamians from all walks of life gathered for an interfaith experience to celebrate One Nation Under God.
The members of the MCCJ Clergy Dialog, the oldest such interfaith dialogue in the United States, produced this gathering in the hope of offsetting the polarization and hateful public discourse of this political season. The message was that the greatness of the American experience is that we can disagree passionately about our political choices and remain unified and blessed by our nation’s great common heritage.
The beautiful service combined passages from great American documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, with excerpts from great speeches, including the Gettysburg Ad dress, Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream and a sprinkling of poetry, from that of Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty to the poem created for President Bill Clinton’s inauguration by Maya Angelou.
MCCJ board chair Patricia A. Thorp challenged us with her words of introduction: “Born to be different, yet we’re also born to need each other — to strive to connect. Rather than feeling forced to assert and defend our differences, we must learn to celebrate our common ground.
“For that which divides us is tiny compared to all that unites us. So let us come together, as a community, as a myriad of religious organizations and as individuals to confirm our profound belief in unity. We deeply respect each individual’s right to hold unique opinions, but still be humble children of God.”
An interfaith choir joining together in ancient Hebrew and modern gospel was a highlight of the service as the choir directors from different faiths found a way to make their music together. We left the world of negative ads and nonstop debate analysis and shared a prayer for our nation.
We are proud to be a part of a faith community in Miami where, no matter what our political affiliations, race or religious backgrounds, we are able to come together in unity.
We must work to find our common ground, our places of connection, and more ways together to create the great society that this nation can be.
Rabbi Judith Siegal, Temple Judea and The Rev. Dr. Laurie A. Kraus, Riviera Presbyterian,
co-chairs, MCCJ Clergy Dialog, Miami