By Barb Arland-Fye
In a nation built on diversity, Rabbi Henry Karp of Temple Emanuel in Davenport thought National Day of Prayer ought to be an interfaith event.
He suggested the idea to a couple of clergy colleagues — one a Unitarian and the other a Baptist who leads an ecumenical church organization.
Both agreed it was a good idea, but since time was short the event would start small.
On May 7, Rabbi Karp hosted an Interfaith National Day of Prayer during which many of the 40 or so people present shared a prayer for the nation from their various faith traditions.
Clergy and lay people in attendance represented faith groups such as Bahai, Baptist, Catholic, Islam, Jewish, Lutheran, Metropolitan Community Church, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, United Methodist and Unitarian.
Clergy participating from the Diocese of Davenport were Msgr. John Hyland, the diocese’s vicar general, representing Bishop Martin Amos; Msgr. Marvin Mottet; Father William “Digger” Dawson; Father Ed O’Melia; and Deacon Bob McCoy. Lay people from the diocese participated as well.
Rabbi Karp spoke of the value of freedom of religion and the freedom to talk openly about one’s faith. The leader of a Reform Jewish Congregation, he opened prayers with one from the new Reform Jewish Prayer Book.
Msgr. Hyland read a prayer from the Catholic Church’s “Book of Blessings” and adapted the Prayer for Public Officials from it.
Other clergy and lay people recited from Scripture, the Koran, or saints; the Rev. Anne-Marie Hislop, a Presbyterian minister, read a prayer she composed. Two people prayed different versions of the Prayer of St. Francis. Rabbi Michael Samuel, leader of Tri-City Jewish Center in Rock Island, Ill., a Conservative Jewish congregation, recited a prayer in English and Hebrew.
In concluding the prayer event, Rabbi Karp told those present: “I hope this experience has brought us somehow closer together as a community and that it represents a National Day of Prayer in the deepest sense.”
Msgr. Hyland said, “I enjoyed meeting pastors and leaders from various denominations and the prayers that were shared for our country, peace and those who serve our country as public officials.” He also was pleased with the turnout of laity from various parishes as well as clergy.
The Rev. Ron Quay, a Baptist and executive director of Churches United of the Quad City Area, commended Rabbi Karp for hosting the first-time event.
Rev. Quay, who assisted with promoting the prayer service, said it would be worth repeating next year. But more planning time is needed to reach out to more faith groups.
“If we’re going to represent diversity, we need to be more intentional in reaching out to the various faith groups. That was the intention of this first one, but time got away from us,” he said.