On Thursday, October 18, over 270 people of diverse faiths gathered to celebrate St. Louis’ interfaith community and the ways our various faiths compel us to serve those in need. The diverse group convened at The Cedars at St. Raymond, a banquet hall attached to St. Raymond Maronite Cathedral. The cathedral’s rector offered a blessing of welcome and joined us for the event.
Thank you to all who attended, to our volunteers who helped before and at the dinner, to our many sponsors, and to the Annual Dinner Committee: Rev. Dr. Warren Crews, Dr. Lawrence J. Welch, Father Joseph A. Weber, Rev. Sherrie Saunders, Leigh Greenhaw, Ramona Neumann, and Leslie Heberlie. The support of the entire interfaith community made this event possible. We are still calculating the amount of money we raised.
Throughout the evening, we dined among diverse friends new and old; we were invited to interact with the Peace-weaving sculpture originally presented at the September 11th Interfaith Memorial in Music; and we renewed our own commitment to religious diversity in the metropolitan area. Annual Dinner Committee Co-Chair Dr. Lawrence Welch noted our commitment to lifting up good work through a new format, which featured vignettes about service groups to tell a bigger story, instead of a single keynote speaker. “We’re hoping it opened things up and raised our profile and the profiles of the organizations we featured,” he said. “Overall I think it was very successful.”
Each Annual Dinner is coordinated by a different faith group. After recent years’ events have been coordinated by Baha’i, Jewish and Muslim groups, this year Christian groups worked together to plan the event. Dr. Welch said of this collaboration: “It was important that Christians work together for the dinner. Important for Catholics, Protestants to see each other working together for our interfaith community.” Notably we held the dinner at a new location, the banquet hall attached to St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral, and the Cathedral was open for guests to visit, an opportunity that many were able to take advantage of.
The crowd showed remarkable support for Batya Abramson-Goldstein, the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, as she was honored for her service to Interfaith Partnership and the wider interfaith community. Her remarks brought those in attendance to their feet in appreciation of her dedicated and gracious service. You can read those remarks in full here.
The evening’s program, led by Fox News Anchor John Pertzborn, lifted up various ways that faith communities respond to help those in need, showcasing five different service groups that work across faith lines to serve the wider community. After a brief introduction to each group, we showed a video to highlight their work. The videos below were shown during the program.