WORCESTER - Religious leaders from an array of local faith-based institutions will gather Tuesday on the steps of City Hall to pray. Dr. George Yancey, first vice president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said among those attending the Faith in Worcester Day of Prayer will be leaders from diverse communities of faith, including Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Quaker, and Seventh-day Adventist, as well as non-denominational ministries and cultures such as African, African American, Latino and Haitian.
"We wanted to include all cultures because this is what Worcester looks like," he said. NAACP chapter president Patricia Yancey, who is married to Dr. Yancey, said they have received an overwhelmingly positive response to the event. Rabbi Michael Swarttz of Beth Tikvah Synagogue will signal the start of the program at 5:30 p.m. by sounding the shofar. Mayor Joseph Petty will give opening remarks.
Faith in Worcester Day of Prayer Prayer Leaders
The Rev. Leonard Cowan
Melissa Myozen Blacker, Roshi, Boundless Way Temple
The Rev. Francy Duran, Worcester Central Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church
Sister Marie Judith Dupuy, Haitian Apostolate Ministry
Rabbi Aviva Fellman, Congregation Beth Israel
The Rev. Jesse Gibson, Throne of Grace International Ministries
The Rev. Roosevelt Hughes Jr., John Street Baptist Church
Brother Stephen Ives, Worcester Islamic Center
The Rev. Dimitrios Moraitis, St. Spyridon Orthodox Cathedral
Msgr. Francis Scollen, St. Peter's Catholic Church
The Rev. Clyde Talley, Belmont A.M.E. Zion Church
The Rev. Aved Terzian, Armenian Church of Our Savior
Elder Esau Vance, Worcester Black Clergy Alliance
Worcester Friends Meeting
Fifteen local men and women of the cloth will each lead the gathering in prayer. They will pray for intervention in a host of social ills, including drug addiction, hunger, homelessness, poverty, racism and violence. They will pray for city leaders, police, firefighters, teachers, youth, families, businesses and economic development and equal prosperity. They will pray for all people who live and work in the city and that they treat one another with compassion, dignity, respect, love and tolerance.
"Most people recognize the NAACP and know we are leaders for social justice and civil rights, but sometimes they forget where this work is rooted - in humanity and compassion," Ms. Yancey said. "In this world of growing hostility and divisiveness, and with animosity growing within Worcester, we thought it was time for a different voice to be heard. Worcester is in need of prayer - all of our prayers."
Dr. Yancey, who heads the Religious Affairs Committee of the NAACP, said in addition to prayers, the Rev. Leonard Cowan will give a brief history of immigration in the city. The event will also feature a patriotic musical performance by Lydia Fortune and Tom Conner, as well as wrap up with children from various houses of worship singing "God Bless America."
He said plans for the gathering were not prompted by recent police-involved shootings, but have been in the works for several months. "As we look at all the challenges in the city, state and country, we think it is time to try to bring people together, and if we are going to go through some kind of healing, we think people of faith should be in the forefront of that," said Dr. Yancey, a semi-retired veterinarian who is married to Patricia. Another goal, he said, was to promote dialogue among the leaders, of which more than 60 were sent invitations. "We want everybody to come and by bringing all these faith leaders together, I'm hoping they get to know each other a little bit better."