City of Fairfax Mayor David Meyer (with bullhorn) addresses the crowd before the walk.
Photo by Steve Hibbard.
More than 100 people took part in the 3.3-mile Fairfax Interfaith Friendship Walk 2018 on Sunday, May 6, 2018, in the City of Fairfax. The mission of the second-annual walk was to help bring faith communities together to appreciate each other and feel part of the same whole despite their differences.
According to Henry Brinton, Pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church: “Last year, a group of clergy, both Christian and Muslim, were meeting together building relationships and we were so concerned about the divisiveness and polarization in our society today that we thought it would be a great idea to get members of our congregations together to walk through the City of Fairfax as a very visible sign of friendship between people of different faiths.”
He continued: “We will be walking between eight different communities of faith within the City of Fairfax with representatives of 10 different communities of faith, including a Jewish congregation. We could not walk to each and every house of worship because of the distance involved. But we will have Muslim, Jewish and Christian participants in this Friendship Walk. The goal is to build friendships between neighbors here in the City of Fairfax, people of different faiths and nationalities because we believe that those personal relationships are really the secret to overcoming the divisions in society today.”
THE GROUP started at the Fairfax United Methodist Church and visited Christian Science Church, Daniels Run Peace Church, Ezher Mosque, Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia, Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax Presbyterian Church, Fairfax Baptist Church, and ended with the Christ Lutheran Church. At each stop, the group spent five minutes learning about that faith tradition.
“I think the reason why I’m here today is to affirm the diversity of our city and the importance of faith communities to contribute to our civic well-being,” said David Meyer, Mayor of the City of Fairfax. “Local governments cannot meet all the needs of everyone, and churches, synagogues, mosques play a critical role in community building. They have programs for youth, for seniors, for people in all walks of life and they are essential for us to be a successful vibrant community. This Interfaith Walk is an affirmation that everybody’s traditions and commitment to the community is important and that we have a shared vision for the well-being of all our citizens.”
Rashid Telbisoglu, Program Director at Rumi Forum, added: “We thought that it would be a good idea to foster good relationships with different parts of the community for a better and peaceful Fairfax. We thought maybe we could organize an interfaith walk. And our idea of interfaith is basically engagement. We’re not trying to create one religion or anything. But we want to create a friendship environment so it’s actually Fairfax Interfaith Friendship Walk, so we want people to learn about each other’s faiths and organizations and so that we know our neighbors in the community. That’s how we are thinking of achieving a peaceful community.”
FAIRFAX RESIDENT Earl Zimmerman, Pastor of Daniels Run Peace Church, added: “We used to have a little plaque in our church lawn called, ‘No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re a neighbor.’ I think this walk just demonstrates that. We’re from different faith traditions and we’re walking through our city and enjoying each other’s company and having a good time. And it just expresses our wanting to work together to be that kind of community that welcomes everybody.”
Paul Collinson-Streng, Pastor of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fairfax, added: “We are just very excited to be here for the second year because it gives us an opportunity to demonstrate friendship with our brothers and sisters from other faith traditions. It’s a great time to talk with each other; get to know each other along the road and learn a little bit about each other’s faith traditions so it’s a great afternoon for sharing.”
Herndon resident Jan Ramp of the Christian Science Church of Fairfax added: “Our hope is to embrace the community for one, and to educate other churches as to our faith traditions. And so, we’re just looking forward to being with our other church neighbors and all the neighbors here in Fairfax.”