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Karen Lake, Santa Margarita California Stake
Brenda Von Gremp directs the adult Catholic choir as it performs at the annual interfaith event.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. — The Interfaith Council of Greater Rancho Santa Margarita recently hosted its annual “Let Us Sing Thanksgiving” event at San Francisco Solano Catholic Church in Southern California and one of the musical groups included area Mormon children.

The crowd was an enthusiastic one filled with many young faces and a little more noise than usual because this year the music was focused on the children. As in previous years, faith groups would present very short sermons followed by a musical number by members of their congregations. This year the Thanksgiving theme was “Giving thanks for freedom and remembering those who served.”

The event started with all faiths in the audience singing “America the Beautiful” followed by a sermon by Rev. John Embree of Community Lutheran and a solo by a young Lutheran, Jason Leland. The St. John’s Middle School Choir, Light of Unity Singers, LDS Santa Margarita Children’s Choir and San Francisco Children’s Choir were all part of the children’s music.

Margie Dayley, director of the LDS children’s choir, said, “When we told the parents that the children had this opportunity to sing at this interfaith event, they were really excited. The children loved singing the melody of America’s patriotic hymns.”

In his sermon, Rev. Canon John Taylor of St. John’s Episcopal, spoke about the importance of uniting together as Americans even though we might not agree on the results of the recent election.

“Unity is what the interfaith council is all about. We want to celebrate our similarities and differences while promoting harmony and unity and fostering greater understandings between faiths" said Dave Daly, Santa Margarita California Stake interfaith director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As in previous years, the end of the program included singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” but this year the combined children’s choirs from all faiths sang the first verse followed by the entire audience joining in on the second verse.

“Bringing the children seemed to really grow our audience," said Deacon Carol Swanson of San Francisco Solano Catholic Church. "I don’t think we have ever had such a large crowd.”

Karen Lake lives in Southern California and has served as media director for the Santa Margarita Stake for more than four years. When she isn't writing she is either performing or teaching voice lessons.