Interfaith services planned for Y2K

BY DANIEL R. GANGLER | December 27, 1999


(Dec. 27, 1999) -- Undeterred by warnings of terrorism, people worldwide will take part in 60 religious events that will unfold simultaneously from Dec. 31 through Jan. 2 in 40 countries.

The United Religions Initiative, based in San Francisco, has organized 72 hours of worldwide events to advance global interreligious cooperation, a culture of peace, and a gift of hope.

Many of those coordinating local and national church services report that, although they may be providing extra security, they are continuing as scheduled.

In the U.S., people representing eight major world religions will join in the worldwide initiative by gathering in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. to ring in the year 2000.

At 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 31, worshippers will process from the nave to the base of the

center tower, called the Gloria in Excelsis Tower, of the cathedral. There, two sets of bells -- a ten-bell ring and a 53-bell carillon -- will peal in the New Year.

At 11:59, participants will join in a worldwide minute of silence in prayer

and meditation, which will be observed each hour for 24 hours as the new millennium is ushered in.

Earlier in the evening, Bishop Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Capetown, South Africa; Bishop Ronald Haines, Episcopal Bishop of Washington, D.C.; and Dean Nathan Baxter, dean of National Cathedral, will lead a millennial prayer vigil.

The service at the cathedral will bring together people who are Christian (Anglican, Protestant, Roman Catholic), Jewish, Baha'i, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Latter Day Saints, according to the Rev. Peter Grandell, who coordinates worship events at the cathedral.

Even though the Federal government has issued warnings of possible terrorism,

especially in Washington during new millennium celebrations, Grandell said that the cathedral, "like all major institutions, has paid attention to the announcements and will keep our eyes and ears open. Friday night, our real focus will be on building more cooperative relationships, not on the realm of possibilities."

"In an interfaith context, we may have different views or experiences of the

transcendent, but our commonality is in the hope for sharing peace and cooperation," he said.

"Through the vigil we hope to acknowledge that we are all religious faiths working towards peace, through a spiritual focus at the beginning of a new millennium."

As the guide and designer of the vigil, Grandell said he developed a selection of readings, prayers, and meditations by the eight religions participating through a theme of basic cooperation.

The focus of the vigil will be on the human experience. "The universal

religious elements of water, fire, and light, which are shared by the world's religious, will be important elements in this worship setting," said Grandell.

He hopes the vigil will reinforce the commonality of the human experience. He

said: "If we could only accept that we are all brothers and sisters. That makes much more sense than to vilify or demonize others as we have a tendency to do. We, human creatures, are all in the same boat. We just fail to recognize that," he said.

The National Cathedral vigil is part of a 72-hour United Religions Vigil in

Washington that will continue at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Jan. 1 and at the Washington Hebrew Congregation on Jan. 2. The Washington events are coordinated by the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.

Posted December 27, 1999


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