t is with a heavy heart that I pen these words, for there is so much hate in this country. As an African American, I grieve with my Jewish brothers and sisters for the awful, ungodly attacks against the Jewish community. The stabbing a few weeks ago at a Rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah party in New York is the latest of anti-Semitism violence. I believe with all my heart that it is time for people of all walks of life to speak out against these savage crimes. As pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church for 33 years, I have been immensely blessed with the friendship of Rabbi Gregory Marx and the members of Congregation Beth Or, as well as with many other synagogues in our surrounding community that have enhanced our faith journey together.
Just about every day, I have lunch at Pumpernick’s on Bethlehem Pike, and my wife and I go there for date night on Fridays. I have met so many wonderful people there, they have become like family. I could go on and on about the many relationships I have made not only with our Jewish brothers and sisters but with the North Penn Mosque in Lansdale as well as with members of the larger Wissahickon Faith Community. I cannot remain silent when innocent people are slaughtered. Acts of terrorism and racial hatred cannot be tolerated in this world, in this country or in our community. We must speak out. Our places of worship are under attack. While we were still reading about the tragedy in New York, there was a shooting in a house of worship in Texas. When will all this hatred end? More than that, what can we do about it? I have written to Rabbi Marx, at Beth Or, on more than one occasion after some tragedy has taken the lives of people, because I felt compelled to offer our prayers and support. As a nation, we are getting ready to observe the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who gave his life to the cause of racial injustice. I am confident that Dr. King would speak loud and clear about the recent tragedies that have ripped our country. I will continue to pray and lift up my voice whenever I can to speak out against racism, classism, sexism and anti-Semitism, and I pray I am not alone.
An observance of Dr. King’s birthday will be held on January 19th. Along with the Wissahickon Faith Community, the Annual Service of Remembrance will be held at Bethlehem Baptist Church at 4:00; beginning at 3:00 with a Solidarity March from Wissahickon High School to the church. Several years ago, Rabbi Marx and members of his congregation presented us with religious symbols that we will carry representing our faith community. I urge you to join us as we walk together hand in hand with our Jewish brothers and sisters, and with other faith communities, in saying love is stronger than hate, and that hate has no place in our community, our country or the world. Let us walk and worship together along with our children, so that they might see a better world where people can live together, and respect each other regardless of their ethnicity or faith. This is more than a service honoring Dr. King; it is a service that says we are one. As pastor of a predominately African American church, God has spoken to me that we shall no longer be solely an African American church, but a multi-cultural church where our vision is “To Embrace Diversity and Inclusion.” Our lives can be so much better when we are able to see each other through the eyes of God.
Let us stand strong together embracing one another, respecting one another, and loving one another. I am truly grateful to be part of this community and the recipient of so much love and kindness. We will not let hate win. We will rise above the horrible crimes that have been committed, and remember as someone said, “When they go low, we go high”.
Peace, Love and Shalom,
Rev. Charles W. Quann
Bethlehem Baptist Church