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Arcadia Interfaith Action Group Brings Religious Groups Together

January 26th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

Thanksgiving service aids Foothill Unity Center

peters-pic-for-november-27-mohamed-el-farra-muslim1Mohamed El-Farra represents the Muslim musical tradition at Thanksgiving Service

Giving thanks for our blessings has been a tradition in America for over 400 years focusing on the year’s bountiful, or even hopeful, harvest. Thanksgiving has also become a vehicle to remember those less fortunate. With this in mind, the Arcadia Interfaith Action Group, which was formed in 1992 to bridge differences within the religious community, on Monday night, brought together its members which represent 13 local religious organizations, for its Annual Arcadia Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. The gathering also called attention to those of limited resources in our community. Donations of canned food and other donations were sought for the Foothill Unity Center, one of the service agencies the group supports.
These events are held in rotation at various churches. This year’s host church was the Holy Angels Catholic Church, Arcadia.
The service, under the theme “Giving Thanks for the Gift of Music”, allowed the represented religions to briefly summarize their beliefs and offer an insight into how music is intertwined and appreciated in their churches. The informative words on music were followed by a musical presentation.
To begin the evening, the Hsi Lai Temple Drummers, wearing colorful hsi-lai-temple-drummers-during-svc-2008outfits, stirred the crowd to attention with its percussion ensemble performed on traditional Chinese drums. Fr. Michael Evans, Pastor at Holy Angels, followed, welcoming the good-sized crowd to the sanctuary with remarks recognizing the Interfaith group’s work in “building bridges among us”. He was followed by Catherine Klose who acted as convener of the service, who acknowledged members of Arcadia’s police and fire departments and several Arcadia City Council members who were among those in attendance. Klose, an RN with Methodist Hospital Health Ministries, set the stage for the coming presentations, beseeching in a Thanksgiving prayer that higher powers “give us the gift of harmony…”.
Additional comments were offered by Brenda Simonds of the Methodist Hospital Spiritual Care unit, Hilary Barner, First Church of Christ Scientist, and the Rev. Jolene Cadenbach of the Arcadia Congregational United Church of Christ.
Pastor Cadenbach reviewed the Christian tradition of hymns and remarked that mainline churches continue “a great love of the traditional hymn”. The 13-member Arcadia Congregation Choir, led by Art Wild, followed Cadenbach’s remarks with the hymn “In the Bulb file-foto-art-wild-conductor-arc-congreg-churchThere is a Flower”.
Baha’i musical tradition was reviewed by Juliana Licata who remarked that the Baha’i use music in their services in “both happy and sad times”. “The Chant from the Siyah-Chal” was sung by Shawn Jalalizadeh and Jamie Finley.
A Children’s Choir from the local Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints, sang “I Am a Child of God”.peters-pic-for-november-27-lds-childrens-choir
A story from the Muslim past was told by Fawaz Elmasri, relating, in part, that Muslim tradition uses no instruments but relies solely on the human voice. In a chanted response, young Mohamed El-Farra, a sixth grade student, sang in a strong, clear and impassioned voice.
Venerable Miao Hsi of the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple outlined the musical traditions which call for music to be used as an aid to guide and teach. A musical portion was given by four temple members, chanting while using traditional instruments to accent the singing. Also from the Hacienda Heights temple, the His Lai Temple Drummers closed the Thanksgiving service.
Others participating included Rev. Melissa Roux MacKinnon and the Rev. Dr. Philip Bertolo Wood, both of the Church of the Good Shepherd, United Methodist, Arcadia, Rev. Terry Keenan of The Santa Anita Church and Jerry Jaco, Music Director at Holy Angels Church, who provided accompaniment for songs during the service.
Beneficiary of the Thanksgiving service was the Foothill
Unity Center, one of the local service agencies the Arcadia Interfaith Action Group supports.
The Arcadia Interfaith Action Group holds two events during the year, the annual Thanksgiving Service and a celebration of National Prayer Day, held each year on the first Thursday in May.

by Bill Peters

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