The Minneapolis Downtown Interfaith Senior Clergy is a group made up of representatives of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Humanism. We meet monthly for breakfast and at other times to consider questions of social justice and social cohesion.
We agree to disagree on many things. But we agree on what it means to be a compassionate, just and loving human being. How can it be that Jews, Muslims, Christians — from Baptist to Roman Catholic — and Humanists break bread together in companionship and common purpose? Because we practice what we see as the best of human religions.
We ask “Who is our neighbor?” We answer, “Every human being on our planet.”
Now is a time of crisis. Even hysteria. Asian-Americans are being attacked on Minneapolis streets. Minneapolis mosques and synagogues have been vandalized. Those acts represent the worst of human nature. They are the actions of the fearful.
Let’s face it — every one of us lives in danger today. We ourselves, our loved ones, our nation and human society itself are in very real peril. Still, each of us has a choice in how we react. We must not only resist but also call out acts of xenophobia.
These are the worst aspects of humanity. Yet, since this crisis shut down our downtown buildings, our various congregations, bolstered by the use of technology, have seen a remarkable growth in participation in our services. Our gathered communities are choosing life and blessing over fear and anger.
Together, our congregations are more than the sum of their parts. We are Minnesotans committed to a better way.
If this pandemic teaches us anything, it is that all of us — every human being alive on our planet — is connected. Interdependent. This pandemic is our “rendezvous with destiny,” as President Franklin Roosevelt phrased it in another dark time. We, today, have a choice. We can embrace fear and hatred. Or we can respect and celebrate our shared humanity. We can be what the prophets of all traditions have dreamed of — a family: a global neighborhood of justice, compassion and love. As it says in Deuteronomy, “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live ...” (30:19 NRSV). As it is written in the Qur’an, “O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace” (Holy Qur’an: 2, 208). And as the British poet W.H. Auden wrote as World War II began, “We must love one another or die.”
This time of crisis calls all of us — theists, atheists and all beliefs between — to a higher purpose. It calls us to our best selves. Please join your Downtown Interfaith Clergy in choosing life in community.
David Breeden is senior minister, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. This article is also submitted on behalf of Marcia A. Zimmerman, Alvin & June Perlman senior rabbinic chair, Temple Israel; Makram El-Amin, imam, Masjid An-Nur; John M. Bauer, pastor, the Basilica of Saint Mary; Albert Gallmon, Jr., senior pastor, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, and Timothy Hart-Andersen, senior pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church.