News of Holocaust Museum shooting prompts prayer at gathering
More than 50 rabbis, evangelical Christian ministers, Catholic leaders, seminary students, and other members of these faith communities gathered for an interfaith luncheon dialogue on Wednesday, June 10, with a focus on “Caring for Those in Need in These Difficult Times.”
Featured speakers were Rabbi Elliott Dorff, distinguished professor of philosophy at American Jewish University, and Kurt Fredrickson, assistant professor of pastoral ministry and director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Fuller. Also offering comments were Rabbi Mark S. Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, and Fuller Seminary President Richard J. Mouw.
In his address, Rabbi Dorff spoke about the importance of setting priorities to guide us as faith communities during these difficult times—including providing a safety net of services for the poor, encouraging self-sufficiency, and looking out for vulnerable seniors, populations who are at risk or have special needs, and people experiencing physical and mental health crises. He also stressed the need to “take care of the caregivers” and pay attention to the lessons of the Sabbath, which call us all to times of physical and spiritual rejuvenation. “It’s easy to burn out when providing care,” he said; we must take care of our own health, or we won’t be able to care for others.
Kurt Fredrickson called the faith leaders in attendance to not only care for their own congregations, but for the good of the wider world. “We have the task of repairing the world, of blessing the world,” he said—a point that is all too easy to lose sight of as we get wrapped up in our own church or synagogue’s activities. He noted that indeed, since the economic crisis began, statistics show that congregations have increased their assistance to those in need. “Churches seem to be stepping up, and that’s what we should be doing,” he said. “We should be about compassion, community and hope, even in the most difficult times. I’m glad the church is here, and I’m glad the synagogue is here.”
The luncheon event was the sixth in an ongoing series of rabbi-pastor dialogues jointly sponsored by Fuller and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. “When Rabbi Diamond and I first started talking about holding these dialogues,” said Dr. Mouw in his comments, “we talked about our desire to build friendships and trust around common causes, and to work together.”
An example of that unity and care for those in need came as participants in the dialogue heard the shocking news of the religiously motivated shooting that occurred earlier in the day at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. As details filtered in about the tragedy, the conference participants joined together in prayer: “We are reminded once again of the horrible reality of religious hatred,” said Mouw. “We plead for mercy in this terrible situation.”