Of all the prayers that have been sent heavenward in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, participants in the third annual Interfaith Tribute to the Human Spirit saw some of the most diverse Sunday night.
Sponsored by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, the event included Alija Music of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake, dwarfed in front of the massive organ pipes, sounding an Islamic call to prayer that reverberated throughout the Tabernacle. Eight Tibetan Buddhist practitioners, draped in maroon and white robes, took the stage to chant a prayer designed to "dispel obstacles,"
using bells intermittently in unison to emphasize their petition to the divine.
The Khemera Cambodian Temple Dancers offered their "Prayer for Peace and Prosperity" with six young women doing a traditional "fan dance" to haunting Asian music.
The prayers, devotions and worship were as diverse as the crowd, which filled half the Tabernacle and seemed pleased with the variety of devotions and music.
Following a welcome by Elder Ronald A. Rasband, a member of the Quorums of Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an invocation was offered by Professor Roger R. Keller. A former Protestant minister and now religious faculty member at Brigham Young University, Keller opened the service by addressing the "God of the universe" and giving thanks for the "beauty of the world that is many-colored and many-cultured."
After the amen, the rounded sound of a lone wooden flute filled the Tabernacle as Nino Reyos, a Ute/Pueblo, walked slowly from the back of the building to the podium, playing a melody that set the tone for prayer and music.
Liturgical dancers from Judge Memorial Catholic High School also danced their way up the aisles to the podium to guitar accompaniment in a dance of worship.
Utah Gov. Olene Walker praised the event as a reprise of the spirit felt in Utah during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, when the Roundtable held its first-ever musical tribute and helped generate a spirit of brotherhood and peace.
One group offered a guest performance from halfway across the world, as the Skylarks Choir from Moscow dressed in traditional costume entertained the crowd with a mixture of a capella singing, dance and accordion accompaniment. Two Jewish performers known as the Klez Bros. offered up some traditional folk music with clarinet and accordion, and the Ebenezer Church of God in Christ Gospel Choir got the audience fired up with traditional gospel numbers.
The Rev. Mike Imperiale of First Presbyterian Church said were casual observers to wander into the historic Tabernacle, they might wonder "what in the world is going on in here tonight." He said participants were furthering the concept of brotherhood and peace by gaining a greater "understanding of what it means to be a human being" as they saw and heard performances so varied.
The Rev. Dr. Lance Owens of Ecclesia Gnostica reminded participants that "within every human being there resides a spark of the eternal light, and that's indeed the light of this world."
Roundtable chairwoman Jan Saaed, a Baha'i, thanked the audience for taking the time to learn about those whose beliefs differ from their own, saying such events contain the seeds of peace that can sprout and grow. "I pray that this love continues to grow and spread from our hearts tonight to our city, our state, our country and our world."
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