The Fort Bend Interfaith Community was dismayed at reports that a number of Missouri City residents found anti-Semitic flyers in their driveways. It is disturbing, to say the least, that such hateful materials are being spread in our community. The spread of hate filled propaganda against any religious community is heinous. It is terroristic. It is evil. The Fort Bend Interfaith Community stands together in the belief that religiously motivated hatred and violence have no home in our community. As residents and leaders in this, the most diverse county in the country, we denounce the spread of these vile materials and stand in solidarity with our Jewish neighbors.
Our Jewish siblings are currently in the midst of the celebration of Hanukkah, which in part, remembers the miraculous persistence of light in a time of deep darkness. As our community wrestles with the darkness of hatred and fear, we are called to let our light shine. What unites us will always be stronger than what divides us. Our varied faith traditions all call us to speak truth, to seek right, and to care for our neighbor. We must be leaders in this world so fraught with tension and division in standing firm that religiously motivated hatred will not be tolerated. Even as there are some in our community who would anonymously seek to drive us apart, we must boldly, publicly, profess solidarity and compassion. We must work together to overcome hateful stereotypes and hurtful lies. We must shine a light of hope in times when the world seems darkest.
Hate has no home in Fort Bend County. May we come together in a spirit of Shalom.
Rev. Will Starkweather, St. Martin’s Lutheran Church
Geetha Ravula, Ashirwad A Blessing Temple
Pastor John Strader, Horizon Baptist Church
Bhupinder Singh, Sikh Community
Renee A. Teel, Missions Director, Christ Church Sugar Land
Kathy Renfrow, Catholic
Rev. Chris Michaelis, New Hope Lutheran Church
Rev. Roy Varghese, Good Shepard Episcopal Indian Church
James Uschkrat, Missions Coordinator, New Hope Lutheran Church
Homi Davier, Zoroastrian Association of Houston
Rev. Andrew Ellison, St. Catherine of Sienna Episcopal Church
Farha Ahmed, The Minaret Foundation
Dr. C. Chappell Temple, Christ Church (UMC) Sugar Land
Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston
Rev. David Sincere, Fort Bend Transformation Church
Congregation Beth El
Valerie Tolman, Thoreau Unitarian Universalists of Fort Bend
The Fort Bend Interfaith Council sponsored a Love Your Neighbor Prayer Vigil April 11 at the Sugar Land Town Square to promote love over hate. Leaders from 12 different faith communities spoke about their faith’s call for love and kindness towards all people of the world.
Speakers were (left to right):
Kaemerz Dotiwalla of the Zoroastrian Community,
Sue Levin of HGI Counseling,
Imam Ahmed of the Maryam Islamic Center,
Ghasem Bayat of the Baha’is of Sugar Land,
HC Change of the Organization of Chinese Americans,
Bo Singh with the Sikh Community,
Rev. Michelle Holl of Christ Church Sugar Land,
Valerie Tolman from the Interfaith Council board,
Johanna de Young of Thoreau Unitarian Universalist Campus,
Thara Narasimhan with the Hindus of Greater Houston,
Pastor David Sincere with Fort Bend Transformation Church,
Deacon Tom Ruck with St. Laurence Catholic Church,
Irfan Ali of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center,
Pastor Will Starkweather of St. Martins Lutheran Church.
The Fort Bend Interfaith Council petitioned County Judge KP George to declare November 23, 2020 as a countywide Day of Prayer. On November 14 Pastor Will Starkweather of St. Martins Lutheran Church, Irfan Ali of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center, and Valerie Tolman of the Thoreau Unitarian Universalist Congregation, met with Judge George to receive the declaration.