Interfaith service united diverse Port Townsend residents
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Members of Amma Satsang end Sunday’s interfaith service with a chant. From left: Saul Samsky, Surabhi, John Betch, Jessica Huntting (obscured) Charlie Cortelyu, Shelly Dunham and Shanti Soper. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — An interfaith celebration of gratitude, gathering representatives of a diverse spiritual scope, helped to bring people together, according to its participants.

“This was an incredible blessing for this community,” said Jalena Johnston of Port Townsend.

“With so many faiths represented, there was no separation between them — it was all one family.”

About 80 people gathered at the Northwest Maritime Center for the 80-minute Sunday service.

It began with calls to worship from different faiths including Shofar (Judaism), bells (Christianity), conch shells and drums (Native American).

The presentations followed, with prayers from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Baha’i, Quaker, Hindu and Native American traditions.

Storyteller Brian Rohr offered a retelling of the biblical tale of Jacob and Esau, one that began with envy and avarice and ended with gratitude, thanks and brotherly love.

The service was participatory, encouraging attendees to join in during the chants and songs.

A construction-paper leaf cut from leaves gathered at Fort Worden State Park was placed on each chair.

Each attendee was asked to write down what he or she is thankful for.

The statements were read and then were placed in a basket to be burned later.

The sentiments ranged from the serious, family, community and love, to the humorous:

“I am thankful for the Canadians because they remind me of the green planet we all share,” said one.

The event was sponsored by a loose-knit group of local clergy that has sought to present interfaith services in the spring and fall since 2010.

“This was joyful,” said Padma Yong Chedtso, who represented the local ­Buddhist community.

“The Dalai Lama has said we should all be respectful of each other’s faiths. This was respect in action.

“I do not believe in God, but here I pray to God out of respect for others who are here and their beliefs.

“Having respect for others is a big deal.”

The first service in November 2010 was canceled due to weather.

Not so on Sunday.

“The rain kept people from coming, but we had no idea this was going to come together so well,” said Teren MacLeod, a representative of the Baha’i community who was one of the event’s organizers.

“There are a lot of deep friendships that have grown out of this.”


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

Last modified: November 19. 2012 6:02PM
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