Thank you to everyone who attended Thursday’s National Day of Prayer event at City Hall, to all of those who offered prayers and to Pastor Robert Kieck, who organized the event. Here are the remarks I delivered …
“Just two days ago, in the conference room on the other side of this wall, sat an imam, along with leaders from the Catholic, ELCA Lutheran, United Methodist and Episcopal churches, as well as the United Church of Christ, Pastor Kieck and myself.
It was the second breakfast meeting of this wonderfully diverse group of faith leaders, focused on a common goal: Bringing together our congregations to make them stronger, and uniting their members around common problems, to deliver joint solutions.
This idea for a regular meeting of religious leaders got its start with a conversation I had with Ann Fooks years ago at a National Day of Prayer event years ago. She suggested this would be good for South Milwaukee, and that much has become clear after our first two meetings.
Of course, there is power in simply jointly promoting community events like the Earth Day Cleanup and church-sponsored events like today’s event, Barks at St. Mark’s, festivals and more. But we’re going beyond that.
Already, pastoral leaders are talking about expanding the number of community meals in the city … and adding a “Speak Out Against Hate” interfaith event in South Milwaukee later this summer.
And we’re just getting started.
South Milwaukee’s incredible religious diversity is a strength, and we celebrate that tonight and every night. We cherish that.
And it starts in simply talking to each other, demystifying what is happening in that church down the block or the mosque across town. In doing so, we realize we are more alike than different, and stronger together than apart.
The seemingly never-ending violent attacks on religious institutions brings this home to me. We need less hate and senseless violence everywhere, and that includes South Milwaukee. We need more positive relationships and unity. We need more love, to align with tonight’s theme.
With that in mind, I offer this prayer tonight (from the Christian Citizen).
To the creator of humanity, the sculptor of beauty, and the artist of diversity, your people are before you.
When you reached down from the heavens to mold us from the earth, you created within us a uniqueness and beauty that knows no bounds.
When you knelt down to breath life into our lungs, you passed on your love for us that we might share it with others.
With hate too great a burden to bear, let us learn to embrace each other with love, welcome the stranger with benevolent kindness, and turn an enemy into a friend.
As the creator and artist of diversity, let us not shun your ways. Instead, let us reach out to those who are different than us, demonstrating the love you have instilled in your people.
For indeed we are your people: black, brown, and white; Jew, Muslim, and Christian; Republican, Democrat, and Independent; Gay, Straight, and Transgender.
And with so many others, may we never forget that each of us carry your breath within our lungs. We are your people; your beautiful, conflicted, wonderful, broken, and diverse people.
Only you can make us one, only you can take this large diverse world and bend the arc of the moral universe to justice.
Therefore, we submit ourselves to your will. We fall down at your feet asking forgiveness from our intolerance and hate. Today, may we celebrate the diversity you created in order to practice the love you have shown us.
In your sacred, beautiful, and diverse name, we pray, Amen.”