Visiting others’ houses of worship has been a tradition among members of the Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge for years.
“The times we live in now, we need to know who our neighbors are,” said the Rev. Jeff Day, who served as the federation’s executive director for 20 years until retiring in 2006. The organization was known as the Greater Baton Rouge Federation of Churches and Synagogues during his tenure.
With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks arriving this year, federation leaders saw another opportunity to promote peace through interfaith visiting.
The result: a moveable prayer vigil involving seven sites including Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Unitarian houses of worship.
The vigil, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Sept. 11, will be followed by a community gathering for peace at 4 p.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral, 412 North St.
“The idea is people can start at any of these stations and travel any which way they want, and then we end up at St. Joseph’s for this gathering of peace,” explained the Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, who has served as the federation’s executive director since 2009.
Bade said she’s heard from one congregation that plans to use a bus to get its members from site to site and another that plans on sending ambassadors to each of the sites to pray.
“So we’ve got people, who I think, are just excited to do something proactive,” McCullough-Bade said. “Here is something positive that people can be doing, leaving their comfort zone, stopping at these stations and spending time in prayer.”
She expects the gathering at St. Joseph Cathedral to end early enough for those who wish to attend an unrelated remembrance service scheduled for 5 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 529 Convention St. For the First Baptist service, titled “Remembering the Fallen and Celebrating Freedom,” Gov. Bobby Jindal is expected to speak and such public servants as members of the military, police and firefighters will be recognized.
At the federation’s service at the cathedral, the emphasis will be on prayer for peace at home and abroad, she said.
Mayor-President Kip Holden will offer a few words of peace during a service characterized by music and prayer.
Jennifer Patterson, of Camphor United Methodist Church, will direct a combined bell choir of children from Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions.
A combined adult choir, under the direction of Everett Parker, will rehearse at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 185 Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive. Call (225) 267-5600 to participate.
“We are not having lectures at ours, so we are going to keep it moving,” Bade said. “We’ll have been praying all afternoon.”
Prayer vigil sites
The Rev. Robin McCullough- Bade, executive director of the Interfaith Federation, said the sites for a moveable pray-for-peace vigil, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 11, were each chosen to represent a different prayer emphasis.
•”Pray for Our Children,” Holy Grill at Cadillac Park, 6117 Cadillac St. This long-time federation ministry in North Baton Rouge was chosen because 50 percent of the people fed there each week are children.
•”Pray for Peace among Races,” Elm Grove Baptist Church, 1069 N. 38th St. (beginning at 2 p.m.) This congregation has been meeting and ministering with St. Paul Lutheran Church since 1986. The federation paired white and black churches together for dialogue as tensions were rising over the burning of predominantly African American churches in the South.
•”Pray for Peace in Our Community,” Unitarian Church, 8470 Goodwood Blvd. Peace Stones were dedicated in 1996 on the grounds of the church in memory of Yoshi Hattori and others killed in gun violence. Hattori, a Japanese exchange student, died in 1994.
•”Pray for Inner Peace,” St. John’s United Methodist Church, 9375 Highland Road. This site includes an outdoor labyrinth where people can pray as they follow the path to the center.
•”Pray for Peace in Our World,” Beth Shalom Synagogue, 9111 Jefferson Highway. Shalom means peace.
•”Pray for Peace among Religions,” Islamic Center of Baton Rouge, 285 E. Airport Blvd. Jews, Christians, Muslims and others will unite for prayer in a mosque.
•”Pray for Peacemakers,” University United Methodist Church, 3550 Dalrymple Drive. Go inside the church or into the garden area to pray the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, “Make me an instrument of your peace. . . “