On the first Sunday of the new year, Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association (NILA) held its 19th annual World Peace Day interfaith service at Wentz Concert Hall on North Central College’s campus. This year’s theme was: Loving courageously to repair a fractured world, which celebrated the unity of Naperville’s many religious faith backgrounds during a day filled with peace, understanding, and breaking down barriers.
Many faiths gather together at Wentz Concert Hall
The audience was encouraged to participate and observe performances and reflections from many religious denominations, including but not limited to; Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Unitarian Universalists, Baha’i, Hindu, and Latter Day Saints.
Given the current climate, where hatred and intolerance are on the rise, the service created a safe space for coexistence and understanding amongst people from all backgrounds. Some of the presentations included:
- A traditional Hindu dance from the Bharatham Dance Group,
- The singing of “Hinei Mah Tov” by Mira and Willa of Congregation Beth Shalom,
- A song and dance by the Young Adult Division from Fo Guang Shan Chicago Budhist Temple,
At the end of the service, each audience member was given a candle and encouraged to “be the light in the darkness” by practicing kindness and acceptance and speaking out against hatred and condemnation.
Naperville Interfaith Leaders welcomes all
Rather than remaining exclusive to one faith, Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association aims to work across diversity for the common good of the community. Their members represent nine faith traditions and counting, and through their connection with the faith leaders of Naperville, they are fostering understanding and acceptance while working towards shared goals for the community at large. They hold many services in response current events which impact Naperville’s religious communities. Starting under the name “Naperville Ministerium” in the 1980s, NILA has been working for decades to break down barriers between Naperville’s faith groups, emphasizing the value of religious and ethnic diversity and working towards the well-being of all.
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