From Syracuse to Utica to Oswego, the diversity of Central New York brought just over 400 people of different faiths together Monday night, February 6, 2018 at the eighth annual World Interfaith Harmony Assembly.
This year's celebration, "Voices in Harmony," was held at Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas in Jamesville and co-hosted by Interfaith Works and Women Transcending Boundaries.
The local event is a part of a celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week, which the United Nations General Assembly established in 2010 for all people, regardless of professed faith, to come together on the commonalities within the many religious fundamentals.
The goal of the week-long celebration is the "(affirmation) that mutual understanding and interfaith dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace."
Each year the event is held at a different group's sacred building, from a synagogue to a cathedral. In previous years, the assembly met at a mosque and another year at a cathedral.
Organizer Simone Montgomery recalled two years ago when the event was held at a mosque. For many attendees, she said, it was their first time inside a mosque.
"I love it when new people come, it's like their breaking their own barriers," Montgomery said.
The event offers a space for different religious groups to showcase the diversity of faith traditions as a means of education and building ties among world religions.
At least 18 faiths were represented at the gathering. Children and adults from Unity of Syracuse sang and danced to beatboxing and drums. A Methodist minister recited comedian Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a Methodist if..." skit. The Sikh Community referred to the audience as a "garden of beautiful flowers" and requested the audience to "spread the epidemic of love." For several of the performances, the audience participated in song and clapped along.