The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFC) recently held its first Washington Area Day of Unity, part of an initiative to help combat bigotry and violence against religions and faiths.
The IFC invited local faith communities in the region for the June 9-10 event to support and connect with each other by organizing interfaith events. The event was part of the Washington Interfaith Response and Outreach Coalition, a grass-roots project that initiates public demonstrations of solidarity by and for individuals and groups throughout the region in response to religiously motivated threats and attacks.
“IFC’s annual Day of Unity is a new initiative in the D.C. area to continue construction of a bridge of understanding over the chasm of bigotry which threatens our community and our world,” said Rabbi Gerry Serotta, IFC executive director.
There were four corresponding events in D.C. and neighboring Prince George’s County. The first gathering on June 9 was a free community breakfast, with volunteers feeding the homeless at Calvary Episcopal Church in Northeast. They have been serving breakfast for 70 to 100 people each week for 30 years. Many of their guests are homeless and others are food-insecure.
On June 10, a worship service was held at Allan Chapel AME Church in Southeast. Interfaith Power and Light, a faith-based environmental organization, facilitated a workshop called “Sacred Grounds” at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Temple Hills, Md. The workshop explained how to reduce stormwater pollution on their property, clean the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and encouraged faith communities to become good stewards of the earth.
At the Masjid Muhammad in northwest D.C., also known as the Nation’s Mosque, hosted an interfaith panel and Iftar. The theme for their discussion was “Faith Communities Together and the Universal Kinship of all People.” The panel of various faiths gave brief presentations after a short film on Christian and Muslim communities that came together during a trip overseas.
As a regional and multifaith network, the coalition is both response and prevention-oriented. It offers ways to respond to incidents such as vandalism, hate speech or provide educational and social opportunities to prevent religious discrimination. They also have partnerships with representatives from D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George’s County in Maryland, and Virginia’s Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.