Sunday marked the 33rd annual Interfaith Works Thanksgiving, a multifaith gathering to listen to music, hear speakers and take a moment to reflect and give thanks.
It also attracted hundreds of people to the Abbey Church on the campus of Saint Martin’s University, turning the tiny church into a standing-room only concert venue.
The size of the turnout was not lost on Abbot Neal Roth, major superior of the Abbey, who spoke at the beginning of the program.
“I have never seen so many people in this small church,” he said after welcoming everyone.
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“The monks came here in 1895 and founded (the church),” he said. “There hasn’t been one day since then that we haven’t prayed several times a day. So, I’m happy to have you with us to continue that wonderful tradition of prayer.”
And then it was on with the show. Three choirs performed, including the Saint Martin’s University Chorale, and there were a number of speakers of various faiths, including Mustafa Mohamedali of the Islamic Center of Olympia and Dale Ostler of Lacey Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Another tradition is for those in attendance to jot down notes of gratitude.
Kathy Gilliam of Interfaith Works, read them aloud:
▪ I’m so grateful to be alive.
▪ I’m grateful for life, love and family.
▪ I’m grateful for the ability to see the good.
▪ I’m grateful for this amazing community that responds with hope and love.
▪ I’m grateful for my grandchildren and their parents.
▪ I’m grateful to be surrounded by those who see peace and unity.
▪ I’m grateful to live in a community that chooses to live by the Olympia Charter for Compassion.
The Olympia Charter for Compassion, a copy of which was included in Sunday’s program, was created by a number of South Sound congregations in response to “recent acts of physical and verbal violence against persons of color, gay, lesbian and transgender persons, and those of different religious traditions.”
The charter was later unanimously endorsed by the Olympia City Council.
Perhaps the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation Choir struck the best note for the afternoon, singing a hearty, hand-clapping song called “Room at the table” for everyone.