SALT LAKE CITY— 9 February 2009 —A children’s choir representing both the Jewish and Muslim faiths joined other performers in sharing their common beliefs during the Interfaith Musical Tribute to the Human Spirit held at the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The concert, a culminating event in a seventh annual, weeklong celebration of religious harmony and understanding sponsored by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, filled the historic building with the sounds of bells, bagpipes, drums, chants and choirs representing more than 15 faith groups and hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder James J. Hamula of the Quorum of the Seventy welcomed the near-capacity crowd. Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr. issued a gubernatorial proclamation honoring the interfaith celebrations.Carole Mikita, religion correspondent, KSL-TV, Channel 5, narrated the program.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expressed gratitude for those who attended and encouraged all faiths to continue to come together on common goals.
For the children of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, the choral experience presented a unique opportunity. The joint choir, an idea originated by Alan Bachman, helped the children recognize their common ground. “It’s good for the kids to get together,” says Noor Ul-Hasan, Muslim representative on the roundtable. “What’s going on in the world isn’t necessarily what is in the hearts of the Jewish and Muslim people here.” Bachman suggested “that we can see the whole truth, that our family is one on the earth. We all have differences, but it is better to focus on the common ground, for we do have many beliefs and experiences in common: caring, loving, peace and harmony, for example.”
Additional musical presentations voiced the common hope of peace, both personally and worldwide.
Among the other concert participants were the Utah Pipe Band, the Salt Lake Children’s Choir, and additional children’s choirs representing the Mormon, Catholic and Buddhist faiths. Members of two Greek Orthodox congregations joined in an adult choir presentation. Li’l Feathers, a Native American group, and the Kathak Dancers, representing the Hindu faith, shared traditional dances.
The annual interfaith events emphasize the religious and cultural diversity of the current Utah landscape. “You don’t realize how diverse Utah is until you do something like this,” explained Elaine Emmi, past chair of the roundtable. “People tend to have their personal lives separate from the greater community, but events like this help us understand that we all live in a very extended community.”
The Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable was established in 1999, in conjunction with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and under the umbrella of the Olympic Charter requirements to provide “religious support for athletes and their families.”
At the conclusion of the Winter Olympic assignments, the roundtable, consisting of 45 faith leaders from over 22 faiths, decided to continue their efforts. The weeklong celebration of multifaith services, lectures and discussions adds to the yearlong emphasis on the roundtable goals of increasing harmony and understanding in local communities.
This article was prepared by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Newsroom at lds.org.