Unity was among the keywords recited during an interfaith service Friday morning in Springfield just as inauguration festivities were beginning in Washington, D.C.
Roughly two dozen faith and community leaders offered prayers, readings and musical selections inside historic Washington Avenue Baptist Church at Drury University. Many called for strengthening goodwill toward others amid a divisive political climate.
Rev. Mark Struckhoff said the purpose was to “pray for love to reign.”
Reverends Mary Kay Glunt and David Kendrick offered blessings for the elected officials.
Noting the negativity surrounding the recent election cycle, Rev. Phil Snider acknowledged “a commitment to unity may seem overly naive.” Snider says he’s concerned with recent rhetoric and how that may impact the way people treat each other.
“For if we truly seek unity then we have a responsibility to never normalize the disparaging treatment of anyone,” says Snider.
He adds, “If we are nice to one another in our interpersonal exchanges, yet all the while support governmental policies that do immeasurable harm to one another, that fundamental we are still disrespecting one another.”
Snider said true unity is only possible when everyone has an equal place at the table.
Love thy neighbor prayers were delivered by members of the Bahá'í and Islamic faiths, peace prayers were administered in both Spanish and English, and another speaker offered a prayer for the Jewish New Year.
Wes Pratt called upon those in public service “To realize that what you do is a privilege and an honor that must be carried out with a keen sense of duty, because you represent all of the people, all of the time that you serve.”
He called public service “the noblest good,” and that citizens deserve the best of and from those who are elected, selected or appointed.
Friday’s event was sponsored by Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri and the Springfield branch of the NAACP.