Interfaith vigil at University of La Verne responds to hate letter




An interfaith vigil held at the University of La Verne responds to hate letter received by Islamic center
Photo courtesy of Doug Bro

An interfaith vigil held at the University of La Verne responds to hate letter received by Islamic center

An interfaith vigil held at the University of La Verne (ULV), a Church of the Brethren-related school in southern California, in collaboration with the Inland Valley Interfaith Network. The vigil was held after an anonymous threatening letter was received at the Islamic Center of Claremont, Calif., one of several such hate letters that have been sent to mosques and Islamic centers.

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University chaplain Zandra Wagoner, an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren who serves the school as a “interfaith chaplain,” was a leader for the candlelight vigil on the evening of Nov. 29. The event was held outdoors on a lawn on the university campus with more than 150 people in attendance, including community members from a wide variety of faith backgrounds.

Leadership also included ULV president Devorah Lieberman; a board member of the Islamic Center of Claremont; a leader from Unity of Pomona, Calif.; a cantor from Temple Beth Israel; the president of the NAACP chapter in Pomona, Calif.; a representative of Latino Roundtable; and a number of student leaders in the university including a student who helps maintain Native American heritage on campus, the president of the Black Student Union, and the student president of Common Ground.

In an invitation to the event, Wagoner wrote, “The vigil comes less than a week after our local mosque received a threatening letter, and at a time when some people are feeling the weight of increased acts of hate toward specific groups. This is an opportunity to strengthen bonds of compassion and solidarity within our community.”

In her remarks during the vigil, she said, in part: “To our Muslim friends, neighbors and family members, please know our hearts are with you, we pray for safety, and please feel our collective presence tonight as a tangible expression of our unwavering commitment to be in solidarity with you.”

At the conclusion of the vigil, participants were given an opportunity to write letters of support to the Islamic center, and were invited to sign a Charter for Compassion that is part of a local effort called “Compassionate Inland Valley” to encourage cities in the area to become Cities of Compassion.

The vigil received coverage in the area newspaper and on television news in southern California. The Daily Bulletin covered the event with a story posted online at www.dailybulletin.com/social-affairs/20161129/crowd-of-all-faiths-come-to-vigil-to-support-islamic-center-of-claremont . NBC News posted a video report on the vigil at https://goo.gl/oeRQBJ . Fox News posted a video clip at https://vimeo.com/193721583 . The university posted a video of the event on Facebook, view it at www.facebook.com/ULaVerne/videos/1234047413321211 .

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