A police officer sounded his siren, magnified his speaker voice and pulled over a driver just minutes before a crowd talked “turkey” about reducing crime, building bridges and the commonly-held mandate of Jewish, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists, among other faith traditions to “love God and neighbor.”
They came from West Bloomfield, Ferndale, Center Line and the entire Detroit area to give thanks and praise for “the first time in Hamtramck’s history when clergy organized two years ago, called the Common Word Alliance,” according to leaders.
“What’s going on inside here?” asked a lad who stood by watching the patrol car across the street from a park where a handful of youngsters were playing before dark on the eve of Thanksgiving Day.
A healthy Hamtramck was on the minds of founder Arif Huskic, Dan and Sharon Buttry, Muhammed Razon, Imams Abdul Latif and Feljem Salkic, Jennifer Young, Sheikh Saleh al-Gahim and others in the crowd.
“The CWA anniversary celebration and Thanksgiving Day of prayer shows that the Hamtramck and surrounding communities can celebrate our commonalities, as well as our differences of diverse prayers for peace,” said Gail Katz of West Bloomfield. “It is helping to turn hostility into hospitality.” Katz is chairperson of World Sabbath and co-founder of Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialog and Outreach in Metropolitan Detroit.
While giving thanks, original natives, colonists crime, the Civil War and other concerns surfaced Nov. 21 on the corner of Joseph Campau at Danforth.
Wampanoag Indians and Plymouth colonists were part of an autumn harvest feast in 1621. Two hundred years later, Thanksgiving was marked by singular colonies and states, but in 1863, an annual, national celebration was proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln.
Michigan’s most internationally diverse city, with about 22,423, residents was originally settled by German farmers and Polish factory workers at the Dodge Brothers facility in 1914.
Today, however, the faces and faiths of Hamtramck have changed. Immigrants from the Middle East and South Asia, among others, celebrated Thanksgiving Wednesday with clergy leaders of the ecumenical Common Word Alliance in the People’s Community Services.
“God Almighty knows about us on our second anniversary of founding and the world needs to know that leaders came together to pray for global peace,” added Huskic, from Bosnia.
“The police department has been enhanced,” said an excited Buttry. He told of a “love of God and neighbor” initiative similar to neighbors on each block taking time to know and trust who lives next door. The initiative is a major thrust of the ecumenical All Faiths Festival “that aims to foster dialog among all faith traditions, strengthen families and marriage and, to stop the conflicts that begin in people’s hearts,” added AFF leader John Domenick of Center Line.
Ferndale resident Jennifer Young ticked off a list of public events hosted by the Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network (DION) that is steered by Rabbi Dorit Edut of Huntington Woods.
Participants praised citizens for local and national reports that show that U.S. crime has consistently dropped over the last 20 years, while crime, guns and limiting assault weapons was not reflected in the polls of voter’s concern Nov. 6.
There were 351 violent crimes committed in Hamtramck in 2010. With 22,423 residents, the city’s population is similar to Harrison Township near Mt. Clemens, according to the latest statistics available. Only one crime of murder or (non-negligent) manslaughter was listed, amid 152 crimes of robbery, 186 crimes of aggravated assault, and 300 crimes of motor vehicle theft. Some categories were not reported, however, while “crime is as commonly accepted as blowing one’s nose,” admitted a volunteer who was mopping the hallway floor.
Organizers praised a community garden that residents on Goodson Street harvested with CWA this summer.
“We have to reduce crime in Hamtramck,” concluded Huskic. Buttry, however, a minister and a long-time leader in interfaith relations in Detroit, was optimistic and said “crime is down.”
Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski greeted the guests and gave “thanks to you for whom I’m grateful,” the long-time leader said while wiping away tears.
“Neighbors need to know God and one another,” said Rev. Bogdan Milosz, a pastor at Our Lady Queen of Apostles Church on Conant near Caniff in Hamtramck.
Reach Rev. Lawrence M. Ventline, D.Min., a pastor, a board certified professional counselor and a former first executive director of the ecumenical Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, head of All Faiths Festival, at 313- 530-2777. Visit www.religionrootsrelationships.blogspot.com. He is a native of Detroit who resides in Harrison Township.