‘Essence of peace and community’

LIHUE — Love, peace and unity was the common message at the National Day of Prayer celebration Thursday morning.

“The most important thing is that we are all one,” said Sharon West, representative of The Gathering.

Suzanne Stover, pastor at Unity Church, agreed.

“Even though we have different ideas, we connect through one source, and we forgive one another,” she said.

West and Stover were two of several speakers who took the stage, at the center of the Moikeha Building, to lead the congregation in prayer.

A total of 20 speakers, representing multiple religions, from Buddhism and Islam to Christianity and Judaism, addressed the crowd during a 2-hour celebration.

Dozens of people attended the ceremony, which was hosted by the Interfaith Roundtable of Kauai.

The IROK was founded in 2005, and serves as a forum of local representatives from various spiritual and religious organizations.

It seeks to promote understanding, respect and harmony between people of different cultures and religions.

“God has no gender, ethnicity or religion,” Mieko Majima, who represented the Kapaa Hongwanji Temple, said Thursday. “He came to Earth to save us all.”

During her prayer, Majima led the crowd in a Buddhist song. The song took inspiration from both the Japanese and Chinese cultures, she said.

Annaleah Atkinson, pastor at the Fellowship of the Inner Light, said God created humans because He wanted something to love.

“God wanted an object to love, so He created us,” she said. “So, when you breathe in love, understand you’re breathing in God’s love, and when you breathe out, you’re spreading that love to humanity.”

The National Day of Prayer, which was created in 1952, is an annual observance that is held on the first Thursday of May, according to its website.

It’s mission is to mobilize prayer in America and encourage repentance and righteousness.

Jim Jung, co-chair of IROK said the point of the organization was fulfilled Thursday.

“This is a special event, and I thank each and every one of you for sharing your prayers,” he said. “The point of Interfaith is to find commonality, and I think we heard commonality in the speakers today.”

It’s a sentiment, Anna Smithwick, a representative of Bahai of Kauai, echoed.

“We have found the essence of peace and community today,” she said.

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