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An Interfaith Statement Against Bigotry and Division

To add your name to the list of signers, please email lpickens@lehighchurches.org.

As interfaith leaders in the Lehigh Valley, we are aware of a climate of tension and anxiety in our community and nation. We lift our voices together, as people of faith, to remind our brothers and sisters that we are all Americans united not only by the concord of our national polity but also by the call to build the “Beloved Community.”

As faith leaders we commit to overcoming hatred and discrimination in our communities, schools, and places of worship. We are deeply troubled by actions and language that vilify persons based upon their race, nationality, faith, gender, or sexual orientation; we reject the targeting of particular groups in our society, and the promotion of hatred and fear. We unapologetically witness against bigotry and bullying that targets individuals because of their identity or faith expression. We acknowledge that there is a global state of division and discord, fueled by intolerance and xenophobia. As people of faith we challenge this dynamic and express our witness against it.

Our faith traditions—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Unitarian—call us to love our neighbor, reconcile with our enemies, and strive for the inclusion of all in our communities, especially the most vulnerable. We share with all Americans the responsibility for creating a society where our differences are respected, where dialogue on critical community concerns is the norm, and where collective action for the common good transcends our narrow agendas. We yearn for a time when all people can live and work in mutual respect, while advancing the well-being of our communities and nation.

Our role as leaders is to proclaim by what we say and what we do that God is a God of love, and that we are people of love—for all of God’s children. To further our witness, we therefore encourage people throughout the Lehigh Valley to join with us and commit specifically:

  • To act respectfully toward others, including those representing other faiths and ideological perspectives.
  • To refrain from personal attacks on individuals or groups while maintaining the right to disagree vigorously.
  • To set an example for our youth in finding ways to settle disputes peacefully and in refraining from acts of bigotry and bullying.

We also call upon members of our faith communities to participate responsibly, respectfully, and faithfully in community building. We urge listening to diverse voices, dialoging with people across faith and racial boundaries, and creating opportunities to break down walls of division, while creating bridges of hope within our community.

Signed December 2016

Dr. Jack Felch, Executive Director, Lehigh Conference of Churches
Rev. Dr. Larry Pickens, Ecumenical Director, Lehigh Conference of Churches
Chaplain George Altounian, Center Valley
Rev. Dr. Becky J. Beckwith, Sr. Pastor, St. John’s UCC, Fullerton
David E. Bennett, President, Moravian Church, Eastern District

Timothy Bingham, the Interfaith Action Committee, the Lehigh Conference of Churches, Allentown
Rev. Sherry Blackman, Pastor, Presbyterian Church of the Mountain, Delaware Water Gap
Ms. Janice Bonge, Member, First Presbyterian Church (USA), Bethlehem

Rev. Dr. Scott Brooks-Cope, Director, Pastoral Care Services, Phoebe Ministries, Allentown
Rev. Suzanne Brooks-Cope, Pastor, St. Matthew’s United Church of Christ, Kunkletown

Rev. Dr. Carol S. Brown, Vice Moderator, Lehigh Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rizwan Butt, President, Easton Phillipsburg Muslim Association, Easton
Rev. Ruth Ann Christopher, Minister of Word and Sacrament, Faith United Presbyterian Church, Pen Argyl

Rev. Tom Cormier, Co-chair, the Interfaith Action Committee, the Lehigh Conference of Churches
Dr. Irving Cotto, Superintendent, Northeast District, Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference, the United Methodist Church
Mike Drake, Pastor for Mission, First Presbyterian Church PC (USA),  Allentown
Rev. Samantha Drennan, Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church, Macungie

Rev. David Duquette, Pennside Presbyterian Church, Pennside
Rev. Stephen T. Emick, Pastor, Spiritual Formation and Discipleship, First Presbyterian Church, Allentown
Suleyman Eris, President, Respect Graduate School, Bethlehem
Rev. Dr. William Falla, Dept. of Philosophy/Religion, Moravian College
Ruling Elder Jack Felch, Moderator of Lehigh Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Ms. Karen Fitzpatrick, SGI Buddhist, Lehigh Valley
Bishop Juan A. Garcia, Administrative Bishop, Church of God, Northeast Region

Rev. Don Garrett, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem
The Rt. Rev. J. Christian Giesler, Pastor, Emmaus Moravian Church, Emmaus
Mark L. Goldstein, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley

Rev. Elizabeth Goudy, Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem
Rev. Rick Guhl, Retired, the United Church of Christ, Allentown
Mr. Orhan Guven, Director, Lehigh Dialogue Center, Bethlehem

Rev. Dr. Jack Haberer, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Allentown
Rev. Sharon Solt Harfman, Church of the Manger, United Church of Christ, Bethlehem
Rev. Lindsay Harren-Lewis, Pastor of Pastoral Care, First Presbyterian Church (USA) Allentown
Rev. Mardy von Harten, Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Allentown
Dr. Brett Hendrickson, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Lafayette College, Easton
Ann Wasser Hohe, Sunday School Teacher, Presbyterian Church (USA), Catasauqua
Mr. David W. Hohe, Ruling Elder/Clerk of Session, Presbyterian Church of Catasauqua

The Rev. Canon Laura Thomas Howell, Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Bethlehem
Rev. Anne G. Huey, Spiritual Services Manager, St. Luke’s Hospice, and Member, Lehigh Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (USA), Bethlehem
Ms. Laura A Huffard, Member, First Presbyterian Church (USA), Bethlehem
Rev. Michael Iski, Pastor, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Allentown
Minister Marian J. Johnson, Interfaith Minister, Blue Sky Ministries, Lehigh Valley

Rev. Dianne Kareha, Retired, Presbyterian Church (USA), Allentown
Mohammed Khaku, Islamic Community Activist, Upper Macungie Township
Ms. Marcie Lightwood, Schools Program Coordinator, Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, Muhlenberg College, Allentown

Elder Paul A. Lucia, Facilitator, Upper Tier Congregations of Lehigh Presbytery
Rev. Joanne Marchetto, Pastor, The Barn, Allentown

Rev. Alan C. Miller, Conference Minister, Penn Northeast Conference, United Church of Christ, Allentown
Ed Miller, Board Member, the Lehigh Conference of Churches, Allentown
Rev. Karen Moeschberger, St. John United Church of Christ, Allentown
Rev. Jamie Moyer, Chaplain, Phoebe Richland-Phoebe Ministries, Richlandtown

Rev. Kari A. Olson, Pastor, Hope of Christ Presbyterian Church, Summit Hill
Rev. Judi Painter, Community Ministry, Allentown
Shree Patel, Youth Director, Shree Swaminarayan Spiritual & Cultural Center – Anoopam Mission, Coplay
Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Mayor, City of Allentown

Peter Petit, Director, the Institute for Jewish Christian Understanding, Muhlenberg College
Seth Phillips, Rabbi, Keneseth Israel, Allentown
Rev. Larry Pickens, Pastor, Emmanuel United Methodist Church, Allentown
Ms. Christy Potter-Kass, Student Pastor, Ordination Candidate, Pleasant Valley Presbyterian Church, Brodheadsville

Mohammad Rajmohamed, Trustee, Al Ahad Islamic Center, South Whitehall Township
Rev. Janel Rice, Pastor, Calvary Moravian Church, Allentown

Don Robertson, First Presbyterian Church Bethlehem, PC (USA), Steering Committee, Allentown
Linda C. Robertson, First Presbyterian Church Bethlehem, PC (USA), Steering Committee, Allentown
James K. Robinson, Retired Elder of Faith Presbyterian Church, Emmaus
Rev. Scott M. Sanders, Pastor, Church of the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ, Alburtis
Janine Santoro, Chaplain, First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, and Associate Chaplain, St. Luke’s, Bethlehem
Rev. Lee Schleicher, Pastor, United Church of Christ, Allentown
Rev. John Steitz, Interfaith Coordinator, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Delaware Valley

Rev. Steve Shussett, Pastor, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Allentown
Kamran Siddiqui, President, the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley, Allentown
Rev. Cynthia Leslie Simmons, Retired Pastor, Presbyterian Church (USA), Bethlehem

Rev. Dr. Stephen Simmons, Assistant Professor of Theology, Moravian Theological Seminary
Rev. R.C. Smith, Pastor, College Hill Presbyterian Church, Easton
The Rev. Twila Smith, Grace Episcopal Church, Episcopal Church of the Mediator and Refugee Community Center, Allentown
Ms. Gloria Snyder, Musician, First Presbyterian Church, Easton
Rev. Kris Snyder-Samuelson, Pastor, Union United Church of Christ, Neffs

Rev. Dr. Lloyd Steffen, University Chaplain and Director, Dialogue Center, Lehigh University
Rabbi Danielle Stillman, Director of Jewish Student Life and Associate Chaplain, Lehigh University
Rev. Evelyn Stupp, Pastor, Salem UMC, Springtown

Cantor Ellen Sussman, Temple Shirat Shalom, Allentown
Aqeel Syed, Outreach Director, the Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley
Rev. Tom Thomas, Co-chair Interfaith Action Committee, the Lehigh Conference of Churches, Allentown

Richard R. Thompson and Ellen (Froy) H. Thompson, Resting Elders and Members of First Presbyterian Church PC (USA), Bethlehem
The Rev. Canon Maria W. E. Tjeltveit, Rector, Episcopal Church of the Mediator, Allentown; Canon for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Diocese of Bethlehem
Rev. Beth Utley, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Stroudsburg

Robert Walden, Chairperson, Justice and Advocacy Committee, the Lehigh Conference of Churches
Mr. Jack Walker, First Presbyterian Church (USA), Bethlehem
Ms. Phyllis Walker, Representative of Presbytery, First Presbyterian Church (USA), Bethlehem

Kevin Wartell, Cantor, Temple Beth-El, Allentown
Ms. Gail Watts, Member, First Presbyterian Church (USA), Bethlehem
Rev. Lisa H. Weida, Hospital Chaplain, Allentown

Linda Wisser, Director of Church Growth and Development, Emmaus Moravian Church, Emmaus
Rev. Dr. Susan Pizor Yoder, Pastor, The Barn Faith Community
Bishop Samuel Zeiser, Bishop, Northeast Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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