“Interfaith Group Holds Concert on Temple Square,” Liahona, July 2007, N4–N5
More than 700 people representing many faiths gathered in February 2007 in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square to attend the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable’s annual concert celebrating the culmination of its Interfaith Week.
The concert, “A Call to Prayer—a Call to Peace,” was billed as a musical tribute to the human spirit. It featured three cantors from Islamic, Christian, and Jewish traditions who called the concert attendees to prayer. Seven groups representing a cross section of Utah’s rich religious traditions performed a series of musical numbers and dances based on the prayer and peace themes.
Dr. James Pingree of the Salt Lake Public Affairs Council of the Church welcomed attendees and shared his excitement for the event. He referred to the closing song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” and indicated that the daughter of the song’s composers had given concert organizers permission to use it. Dr. Pingree quoted the daughter as saying: “This is exactly the kind of an event for which the song was written. Your use of it would please them very much.”
Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr. also welcomed concert attendees by reading a declaration of the importance of interfaith dialogue and collaboration. Governor Huntsman emphasized the necessity of working together as Utah continues to grow in cultural and religious diversity. “Love and hope are two of the most powerful words in the English language,” he said. “And this great group is spreading love and hope through celebrating diversity.”
The Wesley Bell Ringers from the Christ United Methodist Church started the musical portion of the program by playing “La Paix” (“Peace”). Arvol Looking Horse then offered the Four Directions Prayer sacred to Native Americans.
Gayatri Jayaraman, wearing traditional Hindu dress, performed “Ganesha Kautuvam,” a Bharatanatyam dance. The Tongan Wesleyan Choir performed “All the Earth Will Bow Down to You, Jesus” under the direction of Anitoni Ma‘u.
The Buddhist Taiko Drummers, under the direction of Stan Hirai and the Buddhist Church of Ogden, performed a drum number. For Jodo Shinshu Buddhists, the drums symbolize the voice of Buddha.
Students from the Iqra Academy of Islamic Society sang two Islamic songs in Arabic: “Lejla Ramie” and “Talitha Two Moons.” The University Student Vocal Ensemble from the University of Utah, whose members represent a number of faith traditions, then performed a rendition of “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth.”
Jan Saeed, a member of the Baha’i Faith, offered a closing prayer of peace after which the audience stood and sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
Many expressed their appreciation to the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable for organizing the concert. “Tonight represented harmony, unity, and openness,” said Heather Whiteblume. “Everyone here respects each other’s prayers, beliefs, and culture.”
The Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable was organized under the auspices of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee in order to include all faith traditions in ministering to Olympic athletes and to “facilitate interfaith respect, understanding, and appreciation through interfaith dialogue.” The group continues to meet monthly.