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The faiths of many come together as one Thursday

In this divisive and difficult time of terrorist attacks and refugees, the 10 ministers at Ashland’s popular Interfaith Thanksgiving service will focus on the unifying message of “Reaching Out, Helping Others.”

The 32nd celebration of the event starts at 10 a.m. Thursday, at Wesley Hall, behind First Methodist Church, on Laurel at North Main Street. It’s free, open to the public and early arrival is advised.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the diversity of all faith traditions,” says Rev. Ruth Kirby of the Center for Spiritual Living, who has been an organizer of the event for 11 years. “We acknowledge our respect for all of them and embrace them. Even if they’re wildly different than what we believe, there is room for all of it.”

Buddhist Roxanne Rae of Soka Gakkai International says she will talk about “how we are all connected and that it’s not possible for one country to be happy while the countries around it are suffering. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

Speaking for Taoism, an ancient Chinese religion, Ashland musician Gene Burnett says his message will be that “if you feel genuinely moved to help, your results will be better than if you feel forced.”

Rabbi David Zaslow of Havurah Shir Hadash said he’ll address the notion of light, as “there’s only one light, but when it’s put through the prism of existence, it comes out in different colors. If you put an atheist, Hindu, Buddhist and Jew together, they are expressions of the one source of pure light.”

Rev. Kimberly Hawkins of the Center for Spiritual Living, Rogue Valley, says her message will be that “God is from one source and we are that. Borders are irrelevant. There are many paths to the one God and similarities are much stronger than any differences. Basically, we are all teaching one thing.”

Hawkins emphasizes that all religions have fundamentalists but no religion, at its core, teaches violence.

Quaker Bob Morse says he will emphasize “holding the light and visualizing people in the light of God, whether it’s a friend with cancer or refugees in the plight of homelessness and flight. All the world’s conditions now, whether refugees or climate disruption or ongoing war definitely inform our Southern Oregon community and how we can reach out to people.”

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.