King Prayer Service Emphasizes Unity; Diverse Traditions Find Common Lessons at Sunday's Interfaith Event

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Patterson

Decades after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made civil rights the center of a national discussion, clergy from divergent faiths reflected Sunday on how his message echoes in their ministries.

"We are all part of a community. When it rains, it rains on us all," said the Rev. James R. Boddie, pastor at St. Catherine Catholic Church. " ... He recognized that there is a need for a community to come together."

On the late Baptist pastor's 83rd birthday, religious leaders from five denominations shared lessons with hundreds gathered for the second King interfaith prayer service at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mandarin.

Government offices and some businesses will observe King's birthday today, staying closed for a national holiday marked locally by a parade and celebrations at Metropolitan Park downtown.

After songs from a purple-and-orange-clothed choir from Edward Waters College, speakers from diverse traditions emphasized the value of compassion and cooperation.

Joe Bradford, imam of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, cautioned that "we are not independent, but are dependent on one another," and recalled creation stories that trace all nations back to Adam and Eve.

Rabbi Joshua Lief of the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville likened African-Americans' civil rights struggles led by King to Jewish struggles that began with exploitation in ancient Egypt. …