The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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May 19, 2013

Interfaith services an outgrowth of 2011 tornado in Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. — Celebrating community and rebuilding, members of three faiths came together Sunday at the Landreth Park amphitheater as part of an ongoing interfaith effort that came out of the aftermath of the May 22, 2011, tornado.

The interfaith service attracted more than 50 attendees. It mixed aspects of Christianity, Judaism and Islam to promote community social growth and understanding among the different religions.

The Rev. Jill Michel, of South Joplin Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), said the service acknowledged the differences in the religions while also citing the strength they all bring to the community.

“We are different faiths, but we are one community,” Michel said. “We want to know that we are here for the community first, to know that we can help strengthen our bond with each other by educating the people we come into contact with on a daily basis.”

Calls of prayer were heard through each faith, in addition to words of faith and demonstrations of religious practices. During a demonstration of the importance of water across the faiths, Paul Teverow, of the United Hebrew Congregation, said these ceremonies were held to show how similar some of the traditions can be.

“We have so many differences that we hear about, and we know that can be divisive,” Teverow said. “But today, we are here to celebrate and strengthen our bonds with each other because we are part of the same community.”

The interfaith services have grown beyond a community remembrance of the May 2011 tornado. The leaders hold community service events together in addition to discussion panels throughout the year to promote educational growth. Teverow said that by working together, the groups have helped build fellowship with one another that had started even before the tornado.

“We think that there is a strong foundation here that we can keep building on,” Teverow said. “Granted, the catalyst was the tornado, but it made us realize that we should rebuild and grow together.”

Imam Lahmuddin, of the Islamic Society of Joplin, echoed Teverow’s sentiments on community growth.

“We are trying to educate each other, and we see the enthusiasm from those that are taking part in these services,” Lahmuddin said. “We need to keep learning from each other. It is a process that doesn’t stop.”

Next session

MEMBERS OF THE GROUPS will meet again at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 22, at First Community Church, 2007 E. 15th St., for a panel discussion on core beliefs.

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