Mayors’ Interfaith Luncheon fosters dialogue

Imam Toure, keynote speaker for Mayor's Interfaith Luncheon

Keynote speaker Imam Mamadou Toure of the Beaverton Bilal Mosque posed the fundamental question "What is asked of us?"

By Daniela Agostini, Connie Weiss and Judy Poltz
On Thursday, February 18, the Fifth Annual Washington County Mayor’s Interfaith Luncheon, “Expanding the Dream” took place at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek campus. The Inter-religious Action Network (IAN) sponsored this gathering of minds. About 150 people attended, representing at least a dozen faith communities and several civic and political organizations. Honored guests included the mayors of five cities in Washington County:

  • John Kinsky, Mayor of Banks
  • Dennis Doyle, Mayor of Beaverton
  • Peter Truax, Mayor of Forest Grove
  • Jerry Willey, Mayor of Hillsboro
  • David Hatcher, Mayor of North Plains
  • Councilor Sydney Webb represented the City of Tigard
  • Councilor Joelle Davis represented Tualatin

Angie DeRouchie, a member of the Church of Scientology and Chair of the IAN, opened the luncheon with a warm welcome and a blessing.

The program opened and closed with sacred music from several faith traditions. Cantor Ida Rae Cahana sang “Sachaki,” a song from the Jewish tradition, which may be translated as, “Laugh at all my dreams, yet I will still believe in you as you believe in me.”

Using hand bells which had the heavenly sound of delicate chimes, Nancy Johnson dazzled the audience with her performance of four Christian hymns, concluding with “Amazing Grace.”

The bass-baritone voice of Baha’i choir director and soloist Steve Hunt resounded as he chanted a Baha’i prayer, “O God, Refresh and Gladden My Spirit.”

The keynote speaker for the interfaith gathering was Imam Mamadou Toure of the Beaverton Bilal Mosque. Imam Toure is the founder and president of Portland’s Institute of Islamic and Interfaith Studies and co-host of Al-Islam in Focus, a local television program which disseminates information about Islam. He is an outspoken advocate of interfaith dialogue as an important prerequisite to world peace.

Imam Toure spoke of a fundamental religious query: “What is asked of us?” According to the Imam, this question must be answered with struggle and commitment, as this is the path to holiness. Moses, David, Solomon and Mohammed were statesmen, yet they had a deep relationship with God. The faith of these holy men was reflected in a voice for mercy and cry for justice. 
Pure and selfless deeds performed with piety—such is the path of the person of service. Not only deeds, but words are also powerful. “Words, like living water, put out voices of hate.” Most notably, the Imam cautioned, we must realize that the opposite of good is not evil, but indifference. Quoting Edmund Burke, the Imam noted that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. The Imam urged all present to have courage, to speak out and to help wherever there is suffering and to engage in right action in the realms of the environment, terrorism, drugs, wars, and the nuclear threat.

In short, the answer to the question, “What is it that God demands from me in this day?” is this: to be a guiding light, so that all can see better in the darkness.

The program closed with David York, choir director of the New Thought Center for Spiritual Living, leading the entire gathering in a famous song composed by Portland singer-songwriter Don Eaton, ‘I am One Voice.’”