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Faith – Even Different Ones – Can Bond People (May 15, 2008)

One people, same needs.
A band of 12 people from the four winds of the metropolitan Detroit area gathered last winter in the Islamic Organization of North America of Warren.
They aimed to build bridges among all religious traditions and foster recognition and esteem for all God's inhabitants on earth.
On May 4 an interfaith event reached out with the initial group to help with the all-too- common personal crises of home foreclosures, depression and drug dependency, stress among children and family as well as marital difficulties amid a very flat economy. Like the ever-so-slow birth of a baby in a mother's womb, this first-of-its-kind All Faiths Festival in Sacred Heart Church in Roseville built rapport and trust among representatives of the world religions.
Rabbi Marc Waldman's horn and cap, Imam Steve Elturk's long, white robe, and Rev. David Kasbow's way of building bridges as co-chair of the American Clergy Leadership Conference based in Warren, attracted curiosity and conversation as we came to know each others faith, tradition, policies, scriptures and Koran.
With support from the other students in that Saturday morning class in the Warren mosque last winter, this historic story further unfolded May 4 with song and breakout sessions to serve hope and help for persons at risk in a shaky economy.
With help and hope the original group of Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Totty, Lauren Sackey, Marge Hallman, Olga Dudun, Mary Ann Reaume, Rev. Donald LaLonde, Janet Seefeld, and Carol Sharber, the 12 have swelled with Margaret Demery and Dee McCardle. A neighbor recently told of her disappointment over the indifference she experienced from those who knew she was experiencing a mortage foreclosure on her home. "They acted like I didn't exist," she cried. "All I would have appreciated was a word of support but got nothing."
Multiply that example these days. Add the frustration felt by children in the stresses that come with recession. A dose of hope will do a world of good, for sure.
From Windsor, East Pointe, Berkely, Clinton Township, Redford, Livonia and more, this venture has been more than a class. Along with Edna Jackson of Detroit's Focus: HOPE, for whom the program is dedicated on its 40th anniversary of re-training, providing food, senior citizen and child help since 1968, folk singer David Reske and 88- year-old Father William McGoldrick on harmonica, along with a Japanese and Gospel Choir inspired the unusual mix and harmony of a diverse and colorful assembly.
The late Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis, with others, founded the civil and human rights organization in response to a racially-divided and hostile metropolitan Detroit.
Through history, faith traditions have founded hospitals with nuns, nurses and nations throughout the world to heal wounds. Schools have been raised through various faiths. Some will say religions have done harm. The great good in serving humanity looms large across the globe, however. Where ever people are, there will be some bad apples, as we know. The good reign.
Bands and bonds of interfaith solidarity are unbreakable. The May 4 union of all faiths is an unstoppable wind for positive action. This band came together when we all need some hope and help.
Thanks be to God, Allah, Yahweh! We hope those who govern will hear us.
The Rev. Lawrence M. Ventline is a licensed mental health counselor, a Catholic priest and the author of seven books on human development, as well as a certified health fitness instructor. He has offices in Roseville and Royal Oak. Reach him at sacred heartroseville@saintly.com, www.careofthesoul.org or (586) 777-9116.