HOLLADAY — Faith communities in Holladay will join together for a special Thanksgiving service Sunday, Nov. 24 at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.
Both the Holladay City Interfaith Council and the Thanksgiving service are celebrating their 20th year. The Thanksgiving Service is the primary event sponsored by the Interfaith Council, whose goal is to “foster supportive cooperation, recognition, tolerance, respect, and understanding within the various faiths, and to learn about their people and histories,” according to its mission statement. The council includes members from the Catholic, Jewish, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Islamic, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ faith traditions.
“For me personally, I just think the council and its Thanksgiving service spread the message that we have much more in common that brings us together than what separates us,” Holladay Mayor Rob Dahle said. “The Interfaith Council is the perfect council to share that message, to share that common theme of taking care of people in our community, their spiritual needs and ministering to the community.”
The one-hour service, which will include speakers and musical numbers, will be hosted by the Islamic community; those who attend will be welcomed to the service by Imam Shuaib Din of the Utah Islamic Center.
Keynote speaker Rosemary Baron will share an inspirational message of gratitude. Baron, a St. Ambrose Parish member, is a chaplain and member of the Intermountain Medical Center Palliative Care Team.
Allison Tatton, a Utah Valley University student and a member of Assistance League of Salt Lake City’s Assisteens volunteer service group, will also speak.
The evening will include musical performances by Ezekiel Sokoloff, a 14-year-old violinist and student at the Gifted School; and vocalist Julie Nelson who, with her husband Steven Sharp Nelson of the Piano Guys, has performed on the stages of Abravanel Hall, Sydney Opera House and throughout North America and Europe.
"This is a great way to start the Thanksgiving and holiday season and to share all the things we should be thankful for,” St. Vincent parishioner Christine Sharer said. “Beginning with a sense of the sacred, of shared faith and gratitude is a nice, non-commercial way of kicking off the long holiday season.”
“Thanksgiving is a holiday that has a central faith focus without being pegged to one denomination or another; it’s just warm and inspirational,” said Sharer, who is the incoming Interfaith Council chairperson.
Those who attend the service are invited to bring nonperishable food items for the Interfaith Council’s annual food drive. Donations collected at the service this year will support the Cottonwood High School Food Pantry for Cottonwood students and their families.
Afterward, the community is invited to a social gathering at the parish’s Holy Family Hall, where refreshments prepared by Iraqi, Syrian and Turkish refugees will be served.
While St. Vincent’s did not host the event last year because the church was undergoing a major renovation, it has become the primary site over the last several years.
“We’ve begun the tradition of St. Vincent hosting the service since our facility is the largest and easiest to access in the community,” Father John Norman, pastor, said.
Hosting the service is a natural outreach for the parish because “hospitality is a major value for us,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to gather with the other faith communities of Holladay City to focus on the idea of gratitude and thanksgiving at a time that coincides with our national holiday but is common to all religious communities.”
The social gathering afterward is a great place to meet a neighbor, or find a new friend, he said.
The Council invites members of other faith communities in Holladay to join them both at the service and on the Council, Sharer said.