Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Vietnamese Choirs Join Interfaith
D.C.'s 18th Annual Interfaith Concert – A Celebration of Religious Freedom – filled Washington National Cathedral on November 18. The 18th Concert featured the first Zoroastrian, Hindu and Vietnamese choirs and Vietnamese high school dance group ever to participate.
The diverse roster of sacred music, chant and dance also included the Islamic Call to Prayer and Qur'anic Recitation, Jewish Cantor Helzner of Tikvat Israel Congregation, the Mormon Choir of Washington, Asbury United Methodist Wesleyan Choir, and St. Patricks and St. Nicholas Mission Episcopal Churches' choirs (representing the Protestant faith community), and Kirtani Jatha of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, from the Sikh tradition.
"The U.S. is the most religiously diverse country in this planet. The InterFaith Conference is a microcosm of the best of America, demonstrating how very different religions are building understanding and working jointly on critical issues. The concert is a wonderful way to celebrate the religious freedom that makes this possible," said Dr. Sulayman S. Nyang, president of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, who is a Muslim.
A combined choir of 150 voices opened and closed this religious and cultural event. It was conducted by Dr. Stan Engebretson director of Choral Studies at George Mason University. The Concert was dedicated to Dr. Arthur S. Flemming, a public servant for 60 years who was active in the InterFaith Conference.
The Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in New York City paid tribute to him and to the InterFaith Conference. "Dr. Flemming was a profoundly good human being who improved the lives of millions of Americans," she said. Rev. Campbell continued: "He always stretched his understanding of unity. It is no surprise that he would move from being President of the National Council of Churches to play a leadership role in the InterFaith Conference. The InterFaith Conference is one of the nation's oldest and truly diverse inter-religious organizations, a unique treasure, a model for the nation."
The annual concert's proceeds help the InterFaith Conference bring together the Bahá'í, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Latter-day Saints, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Sikh faith communities in the Washington region to increase understanding among persons of diverse faiths and to work jointly on critical issues such as welfare reform, polarization, hunger, and homelessness.