As a means of bringing together a diverse community of faiths, the city’s Police Department, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office and the Sikh Cultural Society hosted an interfaith prayer meeting in Richmond Hill on Tuesday.
Bhai Gurdev Kang, of the Sikh Cultural Society, said that he was pleased to see a large turnout of NYPD officers and residents representing the many faiths of Queens.
“It is important that the police and the community stay together,” he said.
Father Francis Colamaria, of St. Helen Church in Howard Beach, paraphrased a quote from St. Augustine, stating, “Our hearts are restless… we rest in union.” He noted that a community of so many faiths can only face their difficulties together.
“It is a test of our great country’s motto, ‘E pluribus unum,’” he said. “Out of many, one.”
Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov, of the Kehilat Sephardim of Ahavat Achim in Kew Garden Hills, noted that Jews would be celebrating the holiday of Sukkot until Oct. 11. He added that in building temporary “sukkah” housing, they take notice of the fragility and temporary nature of life. Nisanov noted that fragility is what unites people of different religions.
NYPD Assistant Chief David Barrere said that he was grateful that all of the community’s faith leaders came out on Tuesday night.
“Thank you for bringing a little piece of your faiths to this ceremony,” he told the crowd. “In the political climate in this country and our city, it’s wonderful to unify faiths under one roof.”
He called for attendees to stick around after the prayer service for a fellowship hour at the Sikh Cultural Society, where they would find food and conversation.
“I want to bring everyone out of their comfort zone and join us in fellowship,” he said.
Barrere noted that although there may be a divide among cultures in the United States, the city has seen a reduction in crime. He also noted that he is pleased that Sikh police officers are able to wear their turbans at work.
“The city and the police department are committed to listening to your needs,” he said.
In his closing remarks, Kang noted that he hoped the evening would lead to a stronger bond among the neighborhood’s various faith communities.
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