“An Interesting and Awkward Situation”

Those are the words of Pasadena mayor Terry Tornek, as he made remarks at the 46th Annual Pasadena Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast this morning.  Normally the event is held the same day as National Prayer Day, which was last Thursday.  Due to a conflict, they held it today, and the interesting and awkward situation was that the Muslims couldn’t join in breaking bread with their interfaith counterparts, since it’s in the middle of Ramadan – the period of fasting from sun up to sun down.

And so, the breakfasts were donated by the Muslim guests to local high school students.  This is very nice, but what’s even nicer is to see how far the Pasadena Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast has come in just under a decade.

I remember well attending back in 2010.  The Prayer Breakfast was much more ecumenical then, meaning that it was entirely Christian-based – a variety of Christian faiths, from Methodist to Catholic, but exclusively Christian nevertheless.  I remember filling out a comment card that year, saying that Pasadena was a far more diverse community than just Christian – what about Jews and Muslims?  Shouldn’t the Prayer breakfast be interfaith?

I had recently begun work on a “Building Bridges” initiative at the church I served at the time, Neighborhood Church.  We were working to raise awareness about Islam and our Muslim neighbors, to dispel stereotypes and build friendships.  How wonderful to see a table full of Muslims this morning, acknowledged, and an Imam leading us in the blessing before eating.

Just another example of how Pasadena is indeed becoming a model progressive city of the 21st century.  Way to go, City of Roses!

Now is the season of iftars, the meal that breaks the fast once the sun goes down.  Many are open to the larger community – a wonderful opportunity to meet Muslims and learn about their faith.  There is one at Arcadia Congregational United Church of Christ next Friday, at 6 PM.  You can RSVP to Pastor Jolene Cadenbach at jcatacc@msn.com or Esma Ali at esma@esmaali.com.

Or, The Women’s Mosque of America’s 5th Annual Co-Ed Iftar & Qiyam occurs this Friday at 7:15 PM – an iftar that is zero-waste, no less!  Finally, there is the 4th Annual Bridging Communities Iftar, taking place at a Buddhist Temple on May 16th.   It promises:

“An Iftar like no other – join us in our growing solidarity community of Muslim American, Japanese American, South Asian, Black, Arab, Latinx, East Asian, Queer, Trans and interfaith accomplices. Get ready to break bread, breathe in art, and continue our momentum of building relationships and resistance.”

I love Southern California! Here, we lead the way for what America is and looks like, celebrating our love for diversity in all its forms.

Rev. Hannah