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Glen Head church holds multifaith Thanksgiving service

Participants attend an annual multifaith Thanksgiving service at

Participants attend an annual multifaith Thanksgiving service at the Brookville Church in Glen Head on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. The multifaith campus, which is home to Muslim, Jewish and Christian congregations, held the service in celebration of Thanksgiving and in response to the vitriolic presidential election. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

“Salaam, shalom and peace,” the Rev. Vicky Eastland said, welcoming a congregation of 150 Muslim, Jewish and Christian worshippers to Sunday’s service at the Brookville Church in Glen Head.

For the fourth straight year, the church hosted its multifaith Thanksgiving celebration, bringing together Protestants from the Brookville church, members of the Muslim Reform Movement Organization, the New Synagogue of Long Island and the interfaith community — a group of families raising their children in both Judaism and Christianity.

Sultan Abdulhameed, who heads the Muslim group, sees Thanksgiving as an ideal multifaith holiday.

“In Islam, there’s an important teaching that says to always be thankful for everything because everything comes from God,” he said. “Thanksgiving, a holiday in which communities across America come together to give thanks, really celebrates this idea.”

Prayers and hymns from all three religions were performed during the service. A Protestant recited a Christian poem, a Muslim led the congregation in prayer and two young Jewish boys blew the shofar, to symbolize being called out into the world to be God’s light.

Religious leaders also took turns giving homilies on the themes of gratitude and healing.

“We’re coming off of a very divisive election season, and so we wanted to share messages about healing,” Eastland said. “We have felt from the beginning that our mission is to bring peace and reconciliation and we feel that’s even more important now than ever considering the current tenor of the country.”

Following the service, donations were collected to purchase turkeys for needy Glen Cove families. Churchgoers also were invited to mingle and enjoy a diverse Thanksgiving meal, which included classic holiday dishes like pumpkin pie and stuffing, as well as samosas prepared by a Muslim congregant and rugelach, which was brought by a Jewish family.

“I think these interfaith services are very important and productive, particularly in the current climate. There’s so much value in getting to know people of other faiths and understanding different religions,” said Nuzha Yakoob, a Muslim from Northport who regularly attends Quran study sessions at the Brookville church. “There’s a lot of hate building out there but that’s just because of a lack of understanding one another.”

Amy and Steven Schombs of East Northport are members of the interfaith community and see the diverse service as a learning experience for their four children.

“I’m really grateful that my children can become exposed to different cultures,” Amy Schombs said. “To be able to understand and appreciate other religions and feel comfortable in different houses of worship, I believe has really enriched our lives.”


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