The 18th Annual Celebration of Abraham gathering
(From press release) When members of the Celebration of Abraham sat down in September to discuss the theme for this year’s annual Davis gathering, they reflected on the current times that seem so divisive, despite the fact there is one characteristic fundamental to all of us: human dignity. Although it is difficult to define human dignity, our religions and traditions remind us to hold it as a value in our relationships with others, especially with individuals who have views that are contrary to our own, and to maintain our own human dignity even in times of difficulty. In order to make community in a world comprising many religious traditions and beliefs, we must strive to renew our appreciation and respect for the dignity of all human beings. Thus, this year’s Celebration of Abraham theme is, “A Community Conversation on Human Dignity.”
The 18th Annual Celebration of Abraham gathering, “A Community Conversation on Human Dignity,” will run from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, in the Fellowship Hall at St. James Catholic Church, 1275 B St. in Davis. The interfaith Celebration of Abraham was founded by a group of Yolo County residents after September 11, 2001 with the hope of building community across religious differences during a time of heightened political tension in our country. We now find ourselves living through another time of heightened political tension, and the principles of the Celebration of Abraham to bring people together to nurture a sense of compassion, respect, appreciation, and foster learning and understanding, are true now more than ever.
18th Annual Celebration of Abraham
What: Free interfaith community conversation
When: 3 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26
Where: St. James Catholic Church of Davis (1275 B St.), Fellowship Hall
Offering: Paul’s Place
“There can be many different definitions of human dignity, said Helen Roland, chairwoman of the Celebration of Abraham and a member of the Davis United Methodist Church. “Even though there is not a simple definition of human dignity, we recognize this as a core value in our relationships with others and see how our community is stronger when we are able to understand and maintain this value.” The focus on human dignity is in keeping with the Celebration of Abraham’s principles.
Anne Kjemtrup, a member of the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims Center and an active member of the planning committee, added that, “The concept that human dignity is inherent to people as a result of God’s grace is a shared belief across the Abrahamic faiths. We look forward to exploring in conversation how remembering the shared value of human dignity might improve our interactions with others.”
As always, to facilitate a truly meaningful experience for the close to 200 people who typically attend this free interfaith event, the program will be interactive. Sitting at round tables of eight to 10 people, those attending will delve into questions designed to help each person gain insight about expressions of human dignity from faith or other traditions and how these values may assist us when we interact with others who hold opposing views on highly charged subjects, such as the status of refugees.
Those gathered again will sing “Children of Abraham” and engage in the traditional washing each other’s hands and breaking a loaf of bread to share with those at the table as symbols of respect and connection.
As part of an annual tradition, participants at Celebration of Abraham can donate money that is given to an organization connected to the theme of that year’s gathering. This year’s social justice offering will be Paul’s Place, a multifunctional facility to be built in Davis to serve the needs of those without permanent shelter. Paul’s Place will include 18 micro-units of permanent housing, 10 bedrooms for transitional housing, 4 emergency shelter beds, as well as a resource center with showers, laundry facilities and food. All the funds to build Paul’s Place are from private donations.
Celebration of Abraham is sponsored by a number of spiritual organizations, including Congregation Bet Haverim/Jewish Fellowship of Davis, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Davis Community Church, Davis Friends (Quaker) Meeting, Davis Islamic Center, Davis Lutheran Church, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church of Davis, SALAM Center of Sacramento, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis and the Woodland Mosque.