Tag Archives: Letters to the Editor

Witnessing Our Faith in One Another

A silent Vigil for a diverse and united community

Let us join together to raise a voice of love and neighborly regard that counters faith prejudice and racial prejudice. Let us see one another and be seen by our County as a united and loving people.

Let us act faithfully – out of love, not fear.

BRIDGES_collageThursday, December 17
4:00 – 4:30 Convene and Invocation: Leesburg Presbyterian, 207 W Market St.
4:45 – 5:30 Silent Vigil: corners of E. Market and S. King St by the County Courthouse, on the sidewalks of the 4 corners of the intersection.

As a diverse group of faith communities in Loudoun County – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Bahai’, Unitarian, Hindu, and Buddhist – we would like to assert our commitment to one another. A safe community is a united community, one that honors the inherent worth and dignity of every diverse participant. It is this kind of safe community that we wish to affirm for Loudoun County.

We will gather at 4:00pm at Leesburg Presbyterian Church for an invocation and brief prayer led by clergy from several faiths, and walk the three blocks to the County Courthouse square. We will hold a silent candlelit Vigil on the sidewalks at the intersection of E. Market and S. King Streets, across from the County Courthouse. Based on the number of participants, we may use the sidewalks on all four corners. Participants are encouraged to bring traditional quotes from their faith that represent how we welcome our neighbor, the ‘Other’ and the ‘Stranger’. We will place these quotes on placards (2’ X 2’) to be held during the silent Vigil. We will have candles available to be held during the Vigil.

We are also preparing an open letter to be published in the local papers, to be signed by clergy.

Clergy and religious leaders that have expressed their support and interest in participating include:

Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling
Rabbi Amy Sapowith and Ray Daffner, Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, Ashburn
Rizwan Jaka, ADAMS Center, Sterling
Rev David Milam, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Purcellville
Rev Debbie Parsons, Leesburg Presbyterian
Rev David Douthette, Catoctin Presbyterian Church, Waterford
Pastor David Norman, Crossroads United Methodist Church, Ashburn
Mike Trivett, Christian Fellowship Church
Sher Singh, Guru Angad Institute of Sikh Studies, Sterling
Mitchell Jacobson, Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i’s of Loudoun County, Sterling
Sheila Kryston, Goose Creek Friends Meeting, Lincoln
Nitin Dogra, Hindu Community
Rev Phyllis Hubble, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Loudoun
Cathy Norman, Loudoun Interfaith Bridges
Kurt Aschermann, Community Table of Loudoun
… and more to come!!

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Celebrate Holidays with Joy and Mutual Respect

dsc_0009__2_Published in the Leesburg Today, December 29, 2009

Dear Editor:

In light of the recent controversy over holiday displays, the undersigned members of Loudoun Interfaith BRIDGES wish to express our gratitude to the members of Leesburg’s Christian community who reached out last year to include other faiths in this long tradition. While not all in our group agreed that the courthouse grounds are an appropriate venue for religious displays, several of our congregations responded to the gracious invitation. Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation and the Sikh community provided holiday displays to join the creche on the courthouse grounds, and speakers from the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Sikh faiths provided remarks for an invocation given in the spirit of holiday celebration and community. This simple celebration of faith and understanding across boundaries remained throughout the holiday season for passersby to enjoy; readers can find photos and more information at www.loudouninterfaithbridges.org.

Unfortunately, some of the public comments following the prohibition of displays indicate a lack of awareness of these events. Many seem to believe that the display prohibition was intended as a ban on expressions of the Christian faith; some who signed the petition demanding reversal of the decision even made hateful remarks directed at other faiths. This misdirected anger is as disheartening as it is destructive.

Now that the Board of Supervisors has reversed the display prohibition, our hope is that in coming years we can return to the example put into practice last year, and that those communities of faith who wish to share a public celebration of the holiday season will do so with mutual respect, reverence, and great joy.

Unity of Loudoun County
St. James United Church of Christ, Lovettsville
Unitarian Universalists of Sterling
Sheila Kryston, Debra Dalby, Goose Creek Friends Meeting
All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Main Center
All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Ashburn
Guru Angad Institute of Sikh Studies
Rev. Dr. David Milam
Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, Ashburn

Supervisors urged to ‘join hands’

Published in the Loudoun Times-Mirror, March 10, 2009

Dear Supervisors,

Loudoun Interfaith Bridges is a local association of faith communities. Combined, our congregations involve several thousand Loudoun residents.

This economic recession will affect all of Loudoun’s residents, but none so much as those who are at the bottom of our economic ladder. There is no doubt that, as the recession deepens, more Loudoun residents will be seeking services and traditional sources of nonprofit funding will diminish.

Nonprofits are efficient. In 2007, volunteers coordinated by Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers gave 7,000 hours and 4,152 services that enabled frail elderly and adults with disabilities who live in Loudoun County to continue living independently.

Health and human service nonprofits received slightly more than $800,000 from local tax dollars for FY09. This amounts to 0.094 percent of tax dollars going to agencies feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, providing after-school programs to low-income children, giving hearing to the poor and much more. This funding is spread across 18 deserving nonprofits.

Our communities of faith will continue to do our part to support Loudoun citizens who need extra help during these challenging economic times, but we cannot do it by ourselves. You, as government leaders, can join hands with us and help lead the way.

We pray that you will not decrease the funding to the Regional Organizations budget, but rather, it is our earnest prayer that you will strengthen your support to these deserving service providers.

Signed, The membership of Loudoun Interfaith Bridges