Every year on the first Sunday in February, Capetonians gather to share Prayers for the City.
It was a tradition started in 2000 by former Mayor Gordon Oliver, who asked Cape Town residents of all traditions to pray together at the start of every year. After 2011, when World Interfaith Harmony Week was first established by the United Nations as an annual event from 1 – 7 Feb , the event was moved to the first Sunday in February in solidarity with this global movement with its universal message of peace.
On Sunday 6 February 2022, more than 100 faith leaders, community leaders, residents and local children gathered on open ground adjacent to a disused railway line in Kalksteenfontein to pray for our City and to share their vision, asking God to bless us as we move forward in service, compassion and love for all – including all of life, and this one planet which we all share.
The event is held annually under the umbrella of Cape Town Interfaith Initiative which was grateful this year for the supportive collaboration of the Cape Flats Interfaith Declaration, SAFCEI, the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the Muslim Judicial Council.
Rev Berry Behr represented SAFCEI, and spoke in her capacity as Faith Leader Liaison as well as CTII Chairperson. Prayers were offered by community and faith representatives including the traditions of Buddhism, Islam, Unitarianism, Interfaith, Indigene, Judaism, Baha’i, Brahma Kumaris and Christianity. Ward Councillor for Kalksteenfontein, Theresa Thompson, commended the faith leaders and spoke of the need for collaboration, unity and common purpose. The musical contributions from Ann and Nic Paton as well as Nur Felix were excellent and highlighted the spirit of unity and common purpose that embraced the event.
Many of the speakers mentioned compassion and the need to bring more active compassion into our lives, our communities and our cities. In keeping with this sub-theme, SAFCEI Board member Imam Salieg Isaacs who had played a pivotal role in organising the event, had arranged a number of gift parcels which were handed out to the group of senior citizens from the community who came to pray. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, 30 local children who gathered around to watch the proceedings, were fed from large pots of food prepared for the occasion.
Imam Salieg and Maulana Abdul-Khaliq Allie both used the opportunity to demonstrate the need to not only speak words of compassion, but also to act compassionately and with kindness towards people.
Our actions towards people and towards our earth are the physical service we offer to God.
By Rev Berry Behr, SAFCEI’s Faith Leader Liaison