|David Sparks of Temple Spiritualis Compassare and John Beckett of Denton CUUPS|
Last night I had the honor of participating in Together in Faith, a 9/11 Service of Remembrance and Hope held at the First United Methodist Church of Denton. I was one of the “faith group representatives” who spoke on the theme “I believe” – what our religions teach that can help us all to live together in peace.
When Rev. Pam Wat of DUUF asked me to represent Pagans in this service, I was a little nervous. It’s one thing if your UU minister invites Pagans – it’s another for the other clergy to accept them. I shouldn’t have worried. Rev. Matt Gaston of First Methodist met me at the door, welcomed me, and thanked me for participating. He and his colleagues sincerely wanted as many religious groups represented as possible.
And I wasn’t the only Pagan. David Sparks of Temple Spiritualis Compassare was invited to participate in the litanies of Remembrance, Penitence, and Hope. David already knew some of the local clergy from his work as a hospital chaplain.
Everyone I encountered last night was welcoming and friendly. At the reception after the service I had a couple people ask about my Awen and Cernunnos pendants – it gave me a chance to talk a little more about Paganism to people who may not have known a thing about it.
Speakers were limited to 100 words – if they had let religious leaders from a dozen or so groups say all they want, the service would have run about five hours and the congregation would have walked out! That was a challenge – in 100 words I couldn’t explain what Paganism is or why I felt like the interfaith service was so important. All I could do was express a couple key concepts and hope people would get them at one level or another. After numerous revisions, here’s what I ended up saying:
I believe the Earth is the Great Mother of us all. And because we are all children of the Great Mother, we are all brothers and sisters.
In the millennia since we became human we have formed many tribes with many colorful traditions. I believe we can celebrate our own traditions, find great meaning and inspiration in them, and still honor the different beliefs and practices of our sisters and brothers.
From the Earth we came, and to the Earth we shall return. From One we became many, and from many we shall be One again.
Throughout the country there was considerable disagreement over how to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11. This group thought the best way was to come together in peace. I was happy to be a part of it.
For more on this event, see Cindy Breeding of the Denton Record-Chronicle‘s coverage of the service, and her story of how the event came together. I’ve got a draft article ready for the new Lonestar Pagan news site – it will be up as soon as it’s edited.