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A Priest, a Rabbi and an Imam Walk Into a Bar

You're invited to celebrate Cobb's religious diversity Thursday at Temple Kol Emeth's 7th annual Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service.

Thanksgiving is in the air and the offing. Fall color is peaking in Marietta as our thoughts turn to homecomings and feasts and a nationwide moment to pause and be thankful for elemental things—health, family, peace, football. I have the perfect appetizer for the run-up to your Thanksgiving.

A priest, a rabbi, and an imam walk into a bar, and the bartender says “is this a joke?”

All Patch’s readers and neighbors and their families are welcome at the 7th Annual at Temple Kol Emeth, 1415 Old Canton Road, this Thursday at 7 p.m. 

We’ll have those three clergymen and more, if not the bar. 

Have you ever sung “America The Beautiful” alongside a Hindu, or listened to a Presbyterian bell choir with a Jew and a Muslim? You might find warmth and openheartedness listening to an interfaith youth prayer featuring kids from six different backgrounds. You can experience all of that Thursday night at the service. 

If we actively relate to each other as individuals and families and neighbors we will be less likely to be duped or dulled by the daily media thrum of television and talk radio, advertising stereotypes and poorly told ethnic jokes. 

This annual Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service serves as a good warm-up as we draw near the Thanksgiving Holiday, a time of year not just to over-eat, watch football and shop, but to pause, reflect and appreciate the little things in life that make it worth living.  For me that means celebrating that we have more in common with each other than our cultural or religious differences would suggest. 

Whether you are a charismatic Christian born and raised in Cobb County, or a lapsed Jew from Boston, or even a Syrian or Libyan Muslim who left police states to move to America and make their way to Georgia, our community is filled with people striving for the same things as you: peace, harmony, understanding, common good.  

Today’s Cobb County is a microcosm of where the country is headed demographically. You are as likely to have a Brazilian or an Indian as a neighbor as a Yankee in my neighborhood, and a good neighbor is the same whether they worship Allah or Buddha or Ganesha instead of Jesus or Eloheinu. 

This year’s Thanksgiving Ecumenical Service will be emceed by Monsignor Pat Bishop from Transfiguration Catholic Church. Speakers will include Marti Heller of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, Imam Furqan Muhammad of Masjid Al-Mu’ minun, Jeff Hickman from the North River Church of Christ, as well as clergy from the Islamic Center of Marietta, the Marietta Baha’i Center, and Chinmaya Mission of Alpharetta.

TKE Rabbi Steven Lebow will doubtless make his presence felt at an event he helped found.

At the conclusion of the service there will be light refreshments in the social hall, and the assembled clergy will be available for smaller group discussions about their faith tradition. What does a follower of the Baha’i Faith believe? Can a Hindu and a Muslim find common ground in Cobb County? What is Vedanta?

Last Spring, Cobb County Government’s Community Relations Council awarded their inaugural to this service, recognizing its positive impact on our community. I always leave this service feeling more patriotic, even though it’s not the most overtly patriotic event. 

Full disclosure here—I volunteer  for the Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service committee at my congregation, Temple Kol Emeth. My interest in this event brought me to Patch a year ago, and thus to your screen this morning.

I hope you join us for the launch of the Thanksgiving Season Thursday night.

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