In Photos: Interfaith Celebration Seeks To Unite Gainesville

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Dozen of people of different faiths, sexual orientations, races and genders crowded around the courtyard of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Tuesday for an interfaith worship celebration.

The celebration began with a Muslim call to prayer and continued with readings from the Jewish, Christian and Unitarian faiths.

Andrew Bachmann, an associate minister at United Church of Gainesville, and Rabbi Michael Joseph from Temple Shir Shalom addressed the crowd before walking across the street to City Hall. Their message was one of solidarity and faith.

“We recognize that as people of faith, there is far more that unites us in sacred community than there is that divides us,” Bachmann said.

After walking to City Hall and lighting candles, University of Florida professor Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons gave a speech encouraging those who were unhappy with the election results to remain hopeful. She said Gainesville is a “work in progress” and wants it to be more conducive to everyone seeking to reach their full potential.

In an interview with Simmons, she said movements such as this could be even better if it expanded enough to include even those who are not activists.

Mayor Lauren Poe closed the ceremony by calling Gainesville a “safe haven” that benefits from diversity.

“The only force that defeats hate,” Poe said, “is love.”

Florence Turcotte, a University of Florida librarian, said it’s important to welcome those who are unlike ourselves. She said she wished “the turnout was more diverse, but the solidarity was encouraging.”

Another attendee, Eve MacMaster, who is also a Christian minister, said, “People need to listen to the marginalized groups.”

“Charity is good,” she said. “But justice is hard, and peace cannot be achieved before justice.”

Mayor of Gainesville, Lauren Poe (far left), speaks in front of City Hall at the LIGHT In The Darkness event on Tuesday evening, December 6, 2016 (Jack DaSilva/WUFT News)
Mayor of Gainesville, Lauren Poe (far right), speaks in front of City Hall at the Light In The Darkness event on Tuesday evening. (Jack DaSilva/WUFT News)

 

Two attendees protect their candles from the breeze. (Jack DaSilva/WUFTNews)
Two attendees protect their candles from the breeze. (Jack DaSilva/WUFTNews)

 

Reverend Jeremy Hole delivers opening statements to a crowd. (photo by Jack DaSilva/WUFTNews)
Reverend Jeremy Hole delivers opening statements to a crowd. (photo by Jack DaSilva/WUFTNews)

 

Former University of Florida faculty, Sally Chesrown lights Jane Day's candle with hers on the steps of City Hall at the Light In The Darkness gathering on Tuesday evening (Jack DaSilva/WUFT News).
Former University of Florida faculty, Sally Chesrown lights Jane Day’s candle with hers on the steps of City Hall at the Light In The Darkness gathering on Tuesday evening (Jack DaSilva/WUFT News)

 

Reverend Catherine Dearlove shares a message during the opening of the event Tuesday evening (Jack DaSilva/WUFT News).
Reverend Catherine Dearlove shares a message during the opening of the event Tuesday evening (Jack DaSilva/WUFT News)

About Nicole Kocian

Nicole Kocian is a reporter for WUFT news. She can be reached at 352-262-9272, or follow her at @nicole_kocian on Twitter.

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