The Episcopal Peace Fellowship at Grace Episcopal Church has reviewed the decision by the pastor of First Congregational Church to ban the Islamic prayer from the presentation of "The Armed Man — a Prayer for Peace."
While attempting to be respectful of this decision, we are surprised, disappointed and shocked. This decision did not convey Christian love and respect for others' views.
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship holds an annual service to honor and commemorate Michigan soldiers who were killed in the past year. Members of different faiths, including Jewish, Native American, Buddhist, Christian and Islam, present prayers for peace. Including all people and faiths as we pray for a less violent world is one way to work for peace.
This work by Karl Jenkins is dedicated to the Kosovo war victims. It is an anti-war concert. In addition to portions of the Mass, it uses words from other sources, including the Islamic call to prayer, the Bible and the Mahabharata, and quotes from Rudyard Kipling, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Sankichi Toge, who survived Hiroshima.
The concert is an integrated professional work of art, the integrity of which is debased when portions are removed.
The writer is Chair of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.
Military has led the way
It's insulting to me that leaders of Traverse City's First Congregational Church think veterans like me might be as intolerant as they appear to be. Our military has often led the way toward tolerance in society, although admittedly sometimes only after controversy and struggle.
In my 20-year Navy career, my shipmates were of all races, ethnicities, religions, and even some whom I thought might be gay long before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." None of that mattered because they did their jobs well and with mutual respect.
The church's leadership group apparently doesn't understand that President Bush declared a global war on terror, not on Islam; but I think most veterans do understand this. Our Constitution (which I swore an oath to support and defend) gives that church the right to be as intolerant as they wish, but that doesn't make their intolerance right.
Moreover, the article infers that the artistic work wasn't being "espoused from (their) pulpit" as part of a worship service; rather, it was a secular concert to honor veterans, presumably even non-church-member veterans.
Kudos to Alya Nadji, a teenager who seems to understand "E pluribus unum" better than do the adult leaders of that Traverse City church.
The writer is a retired Commander with the U.S. Navy.