By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
More than 100 people gathered at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth Street, for the Festival of Faith’s annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service Nov. 14.
The interfaith event served as the official kickoff to the festival’s 2013 Fall Forum, which is sponsored by the Center for Interfaith Relations.
Chris Wooton, director of communications for the Center for Interfaith Relations, said the thanksgiving service is meant to raise awareness and build an understanding for the various faith traditions in Louisville.
“The thanksgiving service is not only a great display but it’s a learning opportunity,” Wooton said. “Hopefully those gathered will gain an understanding of the different beliefs and values.”
Turney Berry, the chairman of the Center for Interfaith Relations board of directors, said the gathering was a celebration of diversity.
“We are grateful that despite all these shapes and sizes and faiths that we are called to serve one another,” he said. “And we are called to care for our Earth and our environment.”
At the service, local faith leaders representing Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism were invited to share “expressions of gratitude” in the form of prayers, spiritual readings or personal reflections.
Dominican Sister of Peace Claire McGowan gave thanks for the gifts of life, love, oxygen, water, beauty and food.
“Daily you feed our souls, our mind and our hearts with the great mysteries of incarnation and redemption,” said Sister McGowan, the executive director of the New Pioneers for Sustainable Future.
Other faith leaders who shared an expression of gratitude were: the Reverend Thich Hang Dat, president of Ten Thousand Buddhas Summit Monastery; Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport from the Congregation Adath Israel Brith Sholom; Reverend Pedro Basden, pastor of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church; and Dr. Muhammad Babar, a member of River Road Mosque and the Louisville Islamic Cultural Center.
Following the expressions of thanks, Father Jeffrey Nicholas, pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption, gave an address entitled “Where Will Our Gratitude Take Us?” In it, he recalled his time as a Navy chaplain.
He said the motto of the Navy chaplains had been bouncing around his head recently.
That motto — Cooperation without Compromise — is a strange mix of fellowship and fear, Father Nicolas noted. He said in his earlier years as a priest the words “without compromise” stood out the most.
“I now realize that a fear of compromise thwarts efforts and blinds us to God’s good purpose,” he said. “Gratitude, seems to me, comes from another place. The gratitude I feel for the ways each of our faith traditions manifests compassion to our neighbors now, in my life, highlights the word cooperation to me over that ‘without compromise,’ ” he said.
The festival’s fall forum continued throughout last weekend with events at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and at Bellarmine University.
Wooton said community issues such as homelessness, fair work conditions and taking care of the environment are important to people of all faith traditions.
“Each of us individually has something to bring to the table. When we work together, we can more effectively address these issues,” Wooton said.