Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Toledo's annual Multifaith Banquet is an example of unscriptural fellowship

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
II Corinthians 6:14-18

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Revelation 18:2-5

God always calls His people to be separate from unbelievers, and I'm not aware of any exceptions mentioned in the Bible. The kind of fellowship exemplified by the following item is forbidden to any true Christian. As reported by Nicki Gorny of the Toledo Blade, April 29, 2018:

A cross-section of the region’s faith community came together on Sunday, breaking bread at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral during the 17th annual MultiFaith Banquet.

“If you’re new to us, welcome to the family,” Judy Lee Trautman, chairman of the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio, said in welcome. “I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to look out on this sea of wonderful diverse faces.”

The MultiFaith Banquet is the hallmark event of the MultiFaith Council, which through year-round activities and partnerships promotes education, fellowship, and service within the wide spectrum of faith traditions that practice in the region. The more than 200 guests who shared conversation and a catered meal in the cathedral basement represented Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Bahá'í Faith, and more.

As it does every year, the banquet offered attendees opportunities to learn about other traditions, through conversations over a meal of chicken and rice prepared by the Ladies Benevolent Society of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, and, more formally, through the “faith storytellers” who presented in the cathedral before the dinner program began.

It also invited guests to reflect on the importance of interfaith relationships.

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz addressed the latter in brief remarks before dinner. While he applauded the city for its history of embracing diversity, he also brought up a recent incident in which a note containing a swastika and a racial slur was left in a city vehicle as a means of emphasizing that, even locally, work toward this end is important and in need of continuous attention.

“If we are aware of that, we are better able to face our challenges and to celebrate when we get it right,” he said. “Tonight is an example when we get it right.”

The Rev. Otis Gordon, senior pastor of Warren AME Church, also addressed the importance of interfaith relationships in well-received keynote presentation over dinner.

“We need a multifaith community of believers working together to build a community,” the pastor said. “Together, we can change the world. Together, we can give hope to the hopeless.”

He continued later: “It is through diversity that we unify in a common goal. It is through diversity that we can arrive at a common agenda that is expansive enough and grand enough and great enough to create a better place for us all.”

The MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio names its Heroes of Compassion at the annual banquet. This year three individuals and one nonprofit were recognized for their work in the community; their names will be added to a plaque housed with the Lucas County Commissioners.

The recipients were Dr. M.Y. Ahmed, recognized for his role in establishing and supporting several local charitable clinics; Trevor Black, recognized for her commitment to preparing her high school students for college and careers; Rita McDougle, recognized for the weekly gardening program she runs for neighborhood children in East Toledo, and Fellowship Matters Inc., recognized for providing hot meals to the community each week through its mobile kitchen.

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