Longboat Key and St. Armands residents gathered at St. Armands Key Lutheran Church.
At the Interfaith Thanksgiving service this year, more than 100 people of several different religious backgrounds came together to celebrate the holiday and unity within the community.
Traditions from the represented religions mixed together, including the blowing of the shofar horn that the Jewish community ceremoniously does on high holidays. Each invited Longboat Key clergyperson, Father Dave Marshall of All Angels Episcopal Church, MiMi Herwitz and Bill Friederich with Longboat Island Chapel, Stephen Sniderman of Temple Beth Israel, Norman Pritchard of Christ Church and Ken Blyth of St. Armands Key Lutheran Church, spoke or read scripture throughout the evening.
This year, Marshall, the newly installed rector at All Angels Episcopal Church, gave a sermon about sharing Thanksgiving and always having a seat at the table to welcome all into the community. He began with how his own family shared its Thanksgiving traditions with their daughters, whom they adopted at ages 10 and 15 from an orphanage in Russia. The girls came home for the first time on Thanksgiving, and they became a family over dinner.
“That first Thanksgiving was teaching our girls how to cut turkey, and how to share,” Marshall said. “We had to learn how to be parents.”
The message was delivered partly via a lively story of a dream Marshall had the night before, in which Sniderman invited him to the Temple to read Scripture in Hebrew, which Marshall did not understand. He was then trying to carry in folding chairs, but there were not enough. He woke up before the dream ended.
“I don’t know how it ends,” Marshall said. “This is where I am, this is what I have.”
He implored the gathered worshippers to join him in finding out where to go next, to always have enough folding chairs to welcome others to the table and to help the United States be a light to guide other nations.
Words from the other clergy echoed sharing with others and giving thanks for what each person has in their life.