On Saturday, November 7, 2015, the United Religions Initiative had the pleasure of hosting an interfaith celebration at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, California, USA, bringing together groups from different religious traditions and cultural performers from around the San Francisco Bay Area. This live event serves as the heart of a televised special program to be broadcast on CBS Network stations across America on the night of Christmas Eve 2015.
Participants in the interfaith celebration at St. Gregory’s were treated to an evening of prayer, song and dance as representatives of many faith traditions all offered blessings and respect for their Christian friends on the occasion of Christmas Eve. The celebration uplifted and honored not only what made the contributions from each religion unique, but also celebrated the shared values from every tradition: love, hope, friendship, generosity, and light. For a full listing of the performances and prayers shared at the celebration, click here.
The message of the celebration is that news stories of religiously-motivated violence and darkness are only one side of humanity. What rarely makes the news are the hundreds of thousands of people around the world, of all religions, who work together daily for peace. The actions of these people, of the friends and family of URI who engage in interfaith trust and cooperation to make the world a better place, are the "gift" we "unwrap" in this celebration.
Concluding the celebration, URI Executive Director The Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr. said, "I am filled with deepest gratitude for all that everyone did to make the Interfaith Celebration possible. What a journey it has been and what an extraordinary outcome! URI staff and friends, together with our remarkable TV technical team, co-created an experience which not only touched the hearts of all of us gathered, but also more than exceeded all expectations for the live portion of what will become the CBS Interfaith Christmas Special."