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Religious leaders see the glorious workings of God
Different faiths gather to give thanks for life's blessings
Buddhist Dan Phillips, director of Atlanta Shambhala Center, speaks Monday afternoon on the subject of nature during the program “For This We Give Thanks” at Lanier Village Estates. The program featured different people from different faiths — Hindu, Jewish, Presbyterian, Catholic, Buddhist, Mormon, Methodist and Islamic — speaking about family, forgiveness, prayer, the Golden Rule and other topics.

Seeing the way God works through the different communities of faith ranging from Hindu and Buddhist to Catholic and Christianity leaves the Rev. Shon Peppers with a feeling of gratitude for the almighty.

“Look at the way God is at work,” the Gainesville Presbyterian Church pastor said to a roomful of people at Lanier Village Estates earlier this week.

“The way he is using different communities of faith, the different gifts that we have and bringing them together and everything that’s being done for God’s glory, that’s very humbling.”

Helping others, seeking forgiveness, expressing thankfulness and showing gratitude are core principles in faiths around the world.

Speakers from the Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Mormon, Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian and Baha’i faiths highlighted each topic during the program “For This We Give Thanks” at Lanier Village Estates.

Father Jose Kochuparampil of St. Michael Catholic Church in Gainesville recalled his childhood in India and the multiple religions represented within his community.

His home was situated between a Hindu temple and a Mosque.

Sounds of praise coming from both buildings during the day, and holy holiday festivities made him wonder why people worship.

Kochuparampil said it occurred to him the reason is to set things right with God, for forgiveness.

He spoke of Jesus’ last words on the cross “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

“When we practice forgiveness, our homes, our families, our communities, the whole world becomes a paradise,” Kochuparampil said.

“When we have Thanksgiving, we are showing us the virtue of forgiveness.”

Many other speakers talked about the connection between feelings of thankfulness and expressing forgiveness.

When people are grateful for the blessings in their lives, they’re more apt to show compassion and understanding for their neighbors and all other living beings, said V.D. Sharma of the Atlanta Vedic Temple.

Rachel Glazer, founder of the Interfaith Alliance at The University of North Georgia and a member of the Temple Shalom B’harim in Dahlonega, spoke to the group about being thankful for the elder members of a community.

The 19-year-old said she couldn’t speak on the topic of older adults without feeling gratitude and compassion.

She cited an example of the temple helping an older member after the loss of his wife.

Glazer said part of her faith involves the practice of saying thank you when waking and being thankful for the ability to give thanks when it’s time to rest.

“Nobody can say ‘thank you’ on your behalf,” Glazer said. “Gratitude and giving are the alpha and omega of the Jewish practice.”

It’s part of our tradition not only to give thanks but to give to one another.”

Ultimately, I’d like to think we’re put on this earth to take care of one another and to prepare the next generation to do the same.”