In the wake of a fatal attack against the Jewish people of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill community, local religious leaders chose to come together and focus on unity at an Interfaith Gathering on Sunday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Martinsburg.
The service, which was being planned for a few months, took on new meaning after Robert Bowers, 46, carried out a mass shooting Oct. 27 at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people and wounding six as he shouted anti-Semitic sentiments and slurs.
“We are grieving with (the Jewish community) with the tragic events this past week,” said Beth Tindall, director of public affairs for the Martinsburg Stake of the LDS Church. “This is a perfect opportunity for us to share and to learn about each others’ beliefs. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to come together as a community to heal and open up dialogue.”
The gathering featured an opening prayer from Rev. Ron Kline, of the Cumberland Valley Baptist Church, and four speakers: Rabbi Scott Sperling, of the Beth El Congregation in Winchester, Virginia; Hussein Rashwan, of the Islamic Society of Winchester, Virginia; Charlotte Harman, representing the Bahai Faith; and Tim Harrast, president of the Martinsburg Stake of the LDS Church. Marie Keegan, of St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Hedgesville, led a closing prayer.
Each speaker shared some insight about the tragedy in Pittsburgh and teachings of their religion, contributing to the theme of the service – “what I wish people knew about my faith.”