An interfaith group of Americans sings prayers for reconciliation in Washington, DC.
Yesterday in the Canon House Office Building rotunda on Capitol Hill, Rabbi David Shneyer led an interfaith group of approximately 150 clergy leaders, locked-out workers, and people of faith, in song.
“Of love and justice I will sing,” sang the rabbi, playing a guitar and riffing off of Psalm 101.
As the others joined in, their voices rang out powerfully and could be heard clearly a floor below.
The group had gathered to participate in an action organized by Faith in Public Life and the Washington Interreligious Staff Community. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Unitarians and others marched on the offices of key Republican Members—including GOP Leadership—and urged a vote to immediately end the shutdown and to raise the debt ceiling without preconditions. Petitions with over 32,000 signatures were simultaneously delivered to members’ home district offices around the country.
When the song ended, Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, offered a prayer: “It is the common good that is the way forward for our nation…. And so let us pray for their courage that they can act on behalf of all of our people. And may our walking these halls, and praying with Congress, be the bridge that you need for healing and for some sanity in caring for all.”
The group then began its procession while singing “Amazing Grace” and other hymns. Police officers quickly told them to keep their volume low and stay to the sides of the corridors, or risk arrest. The group complied. It wasn’t that they feared arrest—many of these faith leaders have engaged in civil disobedience in the past—but that wasn’t their mission on Tuesday.
“The softer tone actually made it feel like a pilgrimage,” said Rabbi Shneyer, director of the Am Kolel Jewish Renewal Community. “Like a witnessing.”
The group divided in two so there would be sufficient time to visit congressional offices in the Cannon, Rayburn and Longworth buildings. When Sr. Simone arrived with her delegation at Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s office door they were greeted by staffer Joyce Meyer.
“Good to see you again,” said Meyer to Sr. Simone.
Sr. Simone told Meyer that they had come to pray that Representative Ryan “has the courage and insight to do the work that needs to be done to care for the common good.”