Wilton holds interfaith service

Cantor Harriet Dunkerley of Temple B'nai Chaim

Cantor Harriet Dunkerley of Temple B'nai Chaim

Jarret Liotta / For Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — Despite the separating nature of the current pandemic—not to mention that of the current political landscape—an online interfaith service strived to bring people closer together last week.

Prayers, songs, and messages of hope and light earmarked the virtual celebration, which was led by half a dozen local clergy.

“It is always challenging to foster a sense of togetherness and community through a Zoom screen,” Cantor Harriet Dunkerley of Temple B’nai Chaim explained prior to the event.

“Although it cannot take the place of being physically together and looking into each other’s eyes to see the common humanity we all share,” she said, “coming together virtually is preferable to remaining isolated with our own individual thoughts and concerns.”

One day before Wednesday’s presidential inauguration and almost two weeks after the infamous U.S. Capitol riot, thoughts and themes obviously reflected the range of feelings permeating the community.

Also taking place a day after Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, calls for peace, unity and love reflected in the theme of the event as well.

“While we might feel small, separate and all alone,” said Rev. Shannon White of the Wilton Presbyterian Church, “our people have never been more closely tethered, because the question isn’t whether we can weather the unknown, but how.”

She noted that this was not necessarily an easy task, but is still possible.

“What would love and connection have me do?” she asked. “Sit with that question. Stay present to it. Live in it. Walk with it. Shout at it. Struggle with it. But always come back to it. What would love have me do?”

“This evening I hope that we remember that to do justice requires action,” noted Pastor Caroline Smith of the Wilton Baptist Church.

Following the reading of a Bible passage, she too indicated good works aren’t always easy to do.

“We know that we do not always live in love in that way that you have called, and for those times that we fall short of your glory … forgive us,” she said.

Golnar Raissi of the Muslim Community Group used the event to not only acknowledge the many thousands of victims of COVID-19, but also sent prayers to the wide range of people involved in its fight.

“Grant us the patience to deal with the worst of its ravages,” she said.

“We pray that you bless us to resist the rise of racism and hate,” she said, adding a call for leadership to work together with respect and humility.

“Allow our leaders to work together to find solutions to difficult problems,” she said.

Likewise, Father Reggie Norman of Our Lady of Fatima Church extended prayers and well wishes for all different groups of professionals and people.

“We know that you love all of your children without discrimination,” he said, extending hope that “our homes, our nation and countries around the world become havens of peace.”

Rev. Anne Coffman of the Wilton Congregational Church offered a song called “Let There Be Peace on Earth, accompanied by her husband, Paul Schmidt, on piano.

“We all know how music and song are an important form of prayer,” she said.

Likewise, Dunkerley offered a song entitled “Let There Be Love,” also known as “Hashkiveinu” in Hebrew.

“As the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior so pointedly taught us,” she said, “darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

“I invite all of us here to be the light and the love we need right now,” she said.