CHARLESTON—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone said Thanksgiving is a truly American feast, marked by a simplicity that reminds us of the simplicity of God and his many gifts for all humanity. He was the main speaker during the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service held Nov. 25 at Morris Brown A.M.E. Church.
The large interdenominational gathering was marked by psalms, scriptural lessons and joyous singing.
The celebration has been held since the late 1960s, according to the Rev. William W. Massie,
pastor of First Scots Presbyterian Church. He is also the current president of the Christian-Jewish Council of Greater Charleston, which sponsored the event. The mission of the council is to promote understanding, cooperation, fellowship and education among people of faith in the Charleston area, he said.
Bishop Guglielmone, who has participated in interfaith Thanksgiving services for the past 31 years, reflected on the holiday and the time people spend with family, friends, food, and maybe sports. At the same time, he said, we often look at God’s gifts as being only for ourselves.
“We fight, horde, abuse, and sometimes waste these precious gifts from God,” he said. “We do not realize that there is plenty for everyone because God’s giftedness to us is unlimited.”
Reflecting on today’s world, Bishop Guglielmone reminded the attendees that the Jewish word shalom means more than peace.
“Peace is not just the absence of war, but a place where everything is right between humanity and God and where communities get along,” he said.
The bishop noted that Thanksgiving joy is muted, however, by people who have nothing for which to give thanks. They are those who know only war and not peace; those suffering from hunger, addiction, and absence of family and friendships.
“That is why our Thanksgiving must be more than prayers and praise of God; families and friends; and feeling good about all that we are thankful for,” he said. “As important as that is, it is not enough.”
The bishop challenged those gathered to couple their prayers with action by reaching out to the poor, showing concern for the lonely and isolated, and doing what they can to eradicate poverty, homelessness and sickness.
“Only then can we be truly thankful, only then can we make the world a place of true shalom,” he said.
Other participants at the service included the Rev. Joseph Darby, pastor of Morris Brown A.M.E. Church; Father Dow Sanderson, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion; Father James Parker, a retired priest of the Diocese of Charleston; and newly assigned Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum of Synagogue Emanu-El.
“I am just glad not to be the new guy on the block anymore,” Bishop Guglielmone joked.