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Different Faiths Give Thanks

{mosimage}Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu faiths come together to celebrate Thanksgiving early.


The sanctuary of First United Methodist Church resounded with the songs of many different religions Tuesday evening, as the Clergy Association of Greater Santa Barbara presented an interfaith Thanksgiving service.

With representatives from the Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim faiths, the service was all about the fellowship of Thanksgiving.

"We would not be here tonight if we did not believe that it is vitally important that people of different faith strive to understand and respect and value one another and one another’s traditions," said the Rev. Peter Buehler of First Presbyterian Church.{mosimage}

Clergy members of the different faiths sat side by side and one after another sang songs of gratitude and blessing. Congregants and celebrants of various faiths also sat next to each other in the pews and participated in each other’s hymns and anthems.

Mark Juergensmeyer, director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at UCSB, presented the keynote speech, giving an talk about the real story behind the holiday we call Thanksgiving. He also gave a commentary on the role of religion through early American history, its effects in modern society and its potential for the future.



"I’m not suggesting that the wall of separation (between secular and religious) be torn down," he said. "But what kind of wall is it? Is it a Berlin Wall?


"I suggest that maybe the wall we need is a Santa Barbara wall … where the vines can creep over and the jasmine can be smelled and the butterflies can move from place to place," he said. "That way it seems to me that religion is not just part of that problem, but it can also be part of the solution."

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