Interfaith Coalition of Allentown Day Of Community Service
Today the Interfaith Coalition of Allentown sponsored a day of Community Service. We had at least 26 congregations and groups participate in service projects throughout the city. Faith groups organized events and also participated in each other's projects, so people from different communities worked side by side helping each other. We served our community by helping at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and senior citizen homes. We cleaned up play areas, helped chronically ill children, donated blood, and collected books, clothes, and food.
Al-Ahad Islamic Center created toy boxes for chronically ill children; youth from Keneseth Israel and Al-Ahad and the Baha'i Community of the Lehigh Valley baked brownies for the soup kitchen and created posters for our evening dinner; Life Church cleaned up Camp Olympic, gardened at the Sixth Street Shelter, and cleaned the Spanish Council building; Christ Lutheran improved a child play area and also created necklaces to sell to benefit Allentown Ecumenical Food Bank; Temple Beth El painted the Lehigh County Senior Center; the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley had a blood drive; and Hope United Church of Christ and Faith Lutheran Youth group painted the Sixth Street Shelter.
We also had several collection drives: Episcopal Church of the Mediator collected materials for homeless support services; Congregation Sons of Israel had a food donation drive; Third Day Worship and Congregation Keneseth Israel had a book drive; Solomon's United Church of Christ collected toys for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation; Zieglers Lutheran Social Services had a baby drive; Saint Joseph's Lutheran Church collected used clothing for the Sixth Street Shelter; Saint Paul's Lutheran collected money for the soup kitchen; Life Church collected donations for Turning Point and also Life Academy; and the Hindu Youth Association collected clothing for Via of the Lehigh Valley.
Keneseth Israel, Al-Ahad, and Baha'i Community youth worked together to bake eight pans of brownies for Daybreak and also the local soup kitchen. We also created posters to be displayed at our Interfaith potluck dinner in the evening. Before we got to work, we discussed why all these groups were coming together today. We talked about Faith in action and the importance of service to the community. We read writings from Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Baha'i, Hindu, and Buddhist sources on befriending strangers, helping members of the human family, being generous to neighbors, guarding the poor, feeding the hungry, and cherishing all living beings. We discussed the importance of service in all religious traditions. Some of the youth incorporated these quotes into their posters. Some youth drew pictures of the planet Earth, people working side by side, and religious symbols from different traditions. We saw a lot of creativity today!
We wrapped up the evening with an Interfaith potluck including an address by Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski who talked about how wonderful it was to have the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Baha'i, and Hindu communities of Allentown all work together to help our city. He hoped to see this continue for years into the future. Rabbi Rob of Keneseth Israel gave a us a tour of the beautiful synagogue and explained many of the symbols and history to us. Then we sat down to break bread and share refreshment with our new found friends from the diverse community of Allentown.
Mixing brownies and making new friends
Working together on a poster
Checking the ingredient list...
Second group makes more brownies
Making sure the batter is just right
Posters on Unity, Peace, Love
David shows his poster with symbols from many religions
Some of the youth
Rabbi Rob showed us beautiful Congregation Keneseth Israel
The Torah scrolls. The scroll in the center was salvaged from the Holocaust. It is cherished and protected by Congregation Keneseth Israel.
A blessing over the entrance