Fairfax Interfaith Friendship Walk

On Sunday, May 21, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., an Interfaith Walk will be held in the City of Fairfax, linking eight places of worship.  I want to invite you to join your Fairfax neighbors for all or part of this 3.5 mile walk, intended to bring faith communities together, help us learn from each other, and develop friendships along the way.  At this time in our nation’s history, we want to appreciate each other and feel part of the same whole, despite our differences.

So how did this walk come to be?  After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the faith community of Washington, DC, created a Unity Walk to show that Americans are one people, in spite of the differences of religion and culture.  This walk has occurred every year since 9-11, and participants have visited a variety of houses of worship along the route.  At every stop, walkers are received with hospitality and taught a little about each religion.

One of the participants in the DC Unity Walk is the Rumi Forum, an organization that fosters interfaith dialogue and intercultural understanding.  The organization gets its name from the poet Rumi, a 13th-century Muslim mystic. He believed in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God, and he wrote poems that remain popular across many cultures and religions. Among his words which are still quoted today: “We are born of love; love is our mother.”

In early March, Elder Cate Rodman and I were invited to have coffee with my friend Bilal Ankaya, imam of the Ezher Camii Mosque in Fairfax, and Mustafa Akpinar, the executive director of Rumi Forum. Many of you know Bilal from fast-breaking dinners at the mosque, and some of you have worked alongside his members in our Hypothermia Prevention Program.  Based on the success of the DC Unity Walk, Bilal and Mustafa shared a vision of creating a similar walk here in Fairfax.

Over the next few weeks, interest grew and contacts were made with the pastors of Fairfax United Methodist Church, St. Leo’s Roman Catholic Church, Daniel’s Run Peace Church, Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax Baptist Church, and Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Tory Baucum, the rector of Truro Anglican, suggested that the focus of the walk shift from unity to friendship, since we are developing such rich interfaith friendships here in the City of Fairfax.  A team of us met with David Meyer, our new mayor, and Carl Pardiny, the chief of police, both of whom offered their enthusiastic support.

On Sunday, May 21, you are invited to drive to the parking lot of Fairfax Methodist Church (10300 Stratford Ave, Fairfax) and be ready to begin the walk at 2 p.m.  T-shirts will be provided for all walkers, free of charge.  The walk will cover 3.5 miles and take us to eight houses of worship, ending at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church at 5 p.m.  Buses and shuttles will then take walkers back to the Methodist Church.  Fairfax Presbyterian Church will be one of the stops, and anyone who wants a shorter one-mile walk (The Golden Mile) can begin at FPC at about 4 p.m.  In the event of heavy rain, we will replace the walk with an Interfaith Rally at Fairfax Methodist.

We organizers are planning on having at least 200 participants in this Fairfax Interfaith Friendship Walk, and I hope that our congregation will be well represented.  No registration is required, but please let me know if you have questions or concerns.  For more information, you can go to: http://rumiforum.org/fairfax-interfaith-friendship-walk/

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