calendar January 15, 2016 in News

Lutherans Join Mayor’s Prayer Service

On his third day as the newly inaugurated 99th mayor of Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney joined an interfaith gathering of Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus for a moving and inspirational Interfaith Worship Service, hosted at the Salvation Army Croc Center in North Philadelphia. After a procession of nearly 100 pastors, priests, imams, and other religious leaders from across Philadelphia, several passages of holy texts were read from the Bible, the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita, and more, all in the original language of the reader’s worshipping community. In a beautiful witness to the diversity of the Philadelphia religious community, twenty-five religious leaders of various faith traditions sat upon the stage next to the newly inaugurated mayor, symbolizing the plurality of faith communities that is our city.

Mayor Jim Kenney with Pastor's Bradley Burke, Patricia Davenport, Jay Mitchell and Carlton Rodgers at his inaugural interfaith prayer service in January, 2016.

Mayor Jim Kenney with Pastor’s Bradley Burke, Patricia Davenport, Jay Mitchell and Carlton Rodgers at his inaugural interfaith prayer service in January, 2016.

After prayers for wisdom, guidance, and divine direction for him in his new call to leadership, Mayor Jim Kenney addressed the assembly with a direct, candid reflection upon the significance of the Philadelphia religious community in helping him to accomplish key central goals of his new administration. Masterfully retelling the story of the prodigal son, Kenney applied the lessons of that story to the current crisis of welcoming formerly incarcerated persons into our society. Insisting that it is our communal responsibility to care for these vulnerable neighbors, he lifted up the welcoming love of the father in that story, saying, “That is how we need to be welcoming these prodigal neighbors of ours back into our society, with a ring and a robe as the loving father in that story welcomed his son back home.”

He then continued, invoking his own immigrant Irish heritage, to make a call for all people of faith to be partners in the welcoming of refugees fleeing violence and war into our country, and into our city. Insisting that this welcoming of the stranger is our sacred responsibility as people of faith, he pledged that his administration would work to make this city an example to the country of what the embodiment of this sacred charge can look like. Following the service he greeted the participants and attendees of the service at the door, including a moment of conversation with the five pastors representing our synod who were present. – Pastor Brad Burke