LIHUE— When Arthur and Carol Hernandez bowed their heads, they joined over 100 other people at the two National Day of Prayer celebrations who took a moment Thursday to offer praise to their almighty.
“I came to listen to the sons of Abraham and also to those who understand they have been enlightened and to hear their petitions of prayer,” said Arthur Hernandez, of Koloa. “I heard many people who elevated themselves in a very high level in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It’s exactly what I expected.”
The national day was celebrated with two gatherings, one held by the Interfaith Roundtable of Kauai and the other hosted by Kauai Island ministries.
Hernandez and his wife were two of 76 people who chose to pray for their island home and peace at the IRK’s event. They listened to the words of ministers of different religions across the island including Vel Alahan of the Kauai Hindu Monastery, Jim Jung of the Buddhist community and Fr. Tony Abuan of Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo, who shared their experiences in faith.
“The inclusion of all faiths was inspirational today and the prayers and the music and the musical performance by John Moore Jr. playing the trumpet as a form of prayer was truly, truly soul stirring,” the chairman of the IRK, Jeffrey Pears said about the event.
The IRK’s event began at 9 a.m. and included a welcoming by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., MC Sharon West and Pears. The event also included performances by the Sacred Earth Choir, who sang two songs.
People lifted their voices as they sang along to the spiritual melodies, the first of which was sung in five languages about the importance of peace and the second that spoke of the importance of caring for the land in Hawaiian.
“I believe we have to show unity with each other,” said Lihue resident Pat Norman, who is part of the Buddhist organization SGI-USA. “I was very happy to see so many people and to see so many different religions together for a change and working for peace and honesty and justice.”
As part of the Buddhist community, Norman also said that she and her people believe in the necessity of unity in prayer in order to stop wars and other awful situations.
Having presented his faith at the NDP as well, Muslim community representative Ishaq Muhammed was pleased seeing people come together to express their beliefs.
“Religion is unfortunately one of those things that can try to divide us but it was good to see, this time to be noble and unite us under one cause of praying and supplicating to our one creator for guidance for the government and for ourselves as a people and as a nation,” he said.
The IRK’s celebration ended at 11 a.m.
Although the IRK and the KIM decided to host separate celebrations, Pears believed that the two events worked out for the best.
“I think that by honoring our agreement to have that space until 11 o’clock, I thought the harmonious relationship between both groups was beautiful,” he said.
As the organizer for KIM, Niles Kageyama agreed with Pears statements.
“I think it worked out because I think the people who met in the first group, I think they felt comfortable in the format they had and I think the people in the second group felt comfortable with the format we had,” Kageyama said. “I think it’s good to give people a choice.”
KIM held their NDP celebration immediately after the IRK at 11:30 a.m. and those who attended said they were touched by the words of the pastors who prayed for different sections of government and the world.
“It’s an opportunity to pray for specific aspects of our country,” Wailua Homsteads resident, Dennis Schoeny said. “I prayed along with the speakers but also just praying myself for the military, praying along with them in that respect.”
The KIM kicked off their celebration with a call to prayer and the blowing of the shofar which is an instrument created out of a ram’s horn.
Kageyama also set the mood for the event and honored God by blowing a conch shell to the north, south, east and west as Kauai residents joined him in shouting praises to God.
The event also featured songs performed by Pastor David Leong, a reading of the presidential proclamation by the mayor and a scripture reading of King’s 8:22-30, which spoke about God’s faithful servants offering up prayers to him.
“I appreciated the prayers of those who lead in prayer. I just sensed that they were very powerful prayers and I just love it when people come together and we agree together, even though we come from different churches,” Kageyama said.
KIM’s event included pastors John Zimmerman of Kalaheo Missionary Church, Grace Church of Kauai’s, Pastor Derrick Vander Meulen and others who prayed for multiple areas including the nation and government, the media, education, churches, businesses, family and marriage.
Many of those who went to the prayer service were moved by the pastors’ speeches, raising their hands and closing their eyes as they prayed deeply.
“I thought it was awesome,” Kapaa resident Kimberly Campbell said. “It’s encouraging to see people from all parts of the island come together for one purpose of just honoring God and glorifying him.”