A student-led multi-faith memorial service in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary School Connecticut (USA) victims was held at University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) on December 18 evening.
Organized by UNR’s Interfaith Students Club in collaboration with Rajan Zed, Director Interfaith Relations of Nevada Clergy Association, it included prayers/thoughts by area Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i, etc., leaders besides student leaders and leader of non-believers.
Thakur Chakrapani Singh, well-known classical musician from India, paid tribute through Kachhapi Veena; while audience accompanied area musician Jim Eaglesmith in his fusion rendition of “Give Peace a Chance”. Various speakers paid tributes to all victims, their families, teachers, administrators, and first responders touched by this tragedy.
We wanted to show that university and college students all over the country were united in their mourning and support for the victims, their families and others affected by this tragic loss in Connecticut; and religions would come together on issues such as this; Daniel R. Sanchez, President of UNR’s Interfaith Students Club, and Zed stressed.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed opened the service with Gayatri Mantra, most sacred mantra of Hinduism from oldest existing scripture of the world Rig-Veda. Held at the UNR campus, the participants recited prayers, offered reflection and read from scriptures in Arabic-Sanskrit-Hebrew-Aramaic besides English. Many in the audience were seen wiping their tears during this interfaith service.
Besides Zed and Sanchez, other speakers included Father Vince Fallon, Pastor of University Catholic Community Our Lady of Wisdom Newman Center; Bishop Luther J. DuPree Junior of Rehoboth Holy Temple (Church Of God In Christ); Dr. Sherif Elfass, President, Northern Nevada Muslim Community; ElizaBeth W. Beyer, Rabbi of Temple Beth Or; Rich Smith, Pastor of Reno First Congregational Church; Reverend Phil Bryan and Carole Maupin of Reno Buddhist Center; Carissa Snedeker, President of Reno Freethinkers (atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, etc., promoting secular values); Mark D. Walton, President of Latter-day Saints Students Association of UNR; Navgeet (King) Zed, President, Student Government Association of Truckee Meadows Community College; Nazrul Mojumder, President of Graduate chapter of Muslim Students’ Association of UNR; Joseph Gebhardt, Faculty from UNR Philosophy Department; Reverend Stephen Child, Northern Nevada Coordinator, American Clergy Leadership Conference; and Pat Fling, Executive Director of ACTIONN.
Dr. Reginald Chhen Stewart, Director of UNR Center for Student Cultural Diversity, spoke on behalf of UNR President Marc Johnson; while Dr. Shannon Ellis, UNR Vice President Student Services, also addressed the gathering.
Mark Sutliff and Stephanie Walker read statements of United States Senator Dean Heller and United States Congressman Mark Amodei respectively on the occasion.