On Sunday, June 14, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and Bishop Mariann hosted an interfaith, ecumenical prayer vigil calling for concrete action toward racial justice at St. John’s Episcopal Church Lafayette Square, overlooking Black Lives Matter Plaza.
“We have an opportunity to change some things in our country and our world that have been crying out for change for a very long time,” said Bishop Mariann before the gathering. “Outrage is not enough. People of faith must unite in action to drive lasting change for justice and healing in our country.”
Calls for action on the fence surrounding the White House.
Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, head of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church, called for a rejection of the uses of “threats, unlawful detentions, extra judicial killings and other forms of coercion to try to silence political opponents and those objecting to unlawful and immoral policies and practices.”
Among the interfaith leaders who spoke were Dr. Rajwant Singh (pictured above), co-founder of the National Sikh Campaing; Imam Talib Shareef, president and imam of Masjid Muhammad, the Nation’s Mosque and chair of the IFC board; and Rev. Dr. James Victor, vice-president of the Baptist General Convention of Virginia. Dr. Singh said, “In the House of God, there is always justice. Justice may be delayed, but it will always come. And that is this moment, here.”
Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Jewish chaplain at Georgetown University and board member of Truth, the Rabinic Call for Human Rights, chanted from the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, “Do not hate one another in your heart. Rather love your neighbor as yourself.”
Mythili Bacchu, Hindu faith leader and Interfaith Council executive board member, chanted a prayer first in Sanskrit then translated the powerful words into English: “May all be prosperous and happy. May all be free from disease. May all see goodness in everyone and everything and may no one suffer from pain. Peace, peace, peace be with all of us.”
An EDOW young adult, Christian Omoruyi, active in campus ministry at American University, spoke with passion, quoting from the Book of Amos, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Bishop William Barber addressed those gathered (watch the entire prayer gathering here), saying to the national media, “stop saying we’ve never seen multi-cultural, multi-racial movements before. It was multi-cultural, multi-racial movements that caused abolition.”
“As our final corporate gesture today, I’d invite you to raise a hand, if you can, as a blessing to those around you. You might just take a look to those around you. May God grant us strength. May God grant us courage. May God grant our hearts to be filled to the brim with love. May God make us restless for the cause of what is right and good and just in this time.”