RIDGEWOOD, N.J. – About 200 followers of different faiths came together for a candlelight vigil on the lawn of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Ridgewood Wednesday evening.
“We are here now to send a strong message in one voice that hate has no home in Ridgewood, in Bergen County, in New Jersey, in our country,” Imam Moutaz Charaf, of the El-Zahra Islamic Center of Midland Park, told the crowd.
Charaf was one of a handful of local religious leaders to speak and offer prayers at the vigil organized by the faith leaders of Ridgewood.
Rev. Nolan Palsma of the Upper Ridgewood Community Church, and president of the Ridgewood faith leaders, said following the events in Charlottesville, Va. “there was a huge cry from the community to come together.” And the faith leaders provided a venue Wednesday evening.
Over the weekend, a large white supremacist rally was held in Charlottesville to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. A vehicle ran into counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring more than two dozen more. Two Virginia State Troopers monitoring the rally were also killed when their helicopter crashed.
During the roughly hour-long vigil in Ridgewood, people held candles and listened intently as leaders -- from faiths such as Christianity, Judaism, Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Universalism – spoke and offered prayers.
Pastor Joanne Van Sant, of Friends to Friends Community Church, encouraged attendees to “talk to your neighbors of all colors and faiths. Listen to their stories.”
Imam Charaf told the crowd, “We need to promote peace. We need to promote life.”
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