Sacred Music Evening brings different faiths together

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Katie Harris
Five LDS women attended the Sacred Music Night to support their friends in the gospel choir. From left: Krystal Scott, Kaci Whitney, Ann Marie Cherry, Bethany Cherry, Melodie Jackson.

SALT LAKE CITY – People of many faiths flooded the Salt Lake Tabernacle Sunday to attend the Sacred Music Evening.

The seating was unassigned and the different religions became somewhat undistinguishable as people squeezed together into the pews as friends. Little girls in traditional Hindu dress were putting on their anklets and Presbyterian bagpipers were getting in formation when a hush fell over the room and the soft notes of the Hindu prelude music calmed the tabernacle for the opening devotions.

The Sacred Music Evening invites different faiths in Utah to share their talents in music, dance, poetry, prayer and more. The program began with bagpipers and ended with a gospel choir.

The event was organized by the Salt Lake Interfaith Round Table, an organization created in preparation for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Originally comprised of 22 faiths, the purpose was to welcome the world to Salt Lake City in a united effort. The organization has continued to be an active force in the community, organizing events year round.

Some performing groups were comprised of people from various faiths. The Debra Donner Unity Gospel Choir comprised of Mormons, Baptists, Catholics and Jews.

Choir director Debra Bonner said, “We’re open to all religions, but our purpose is to bring souls unto Christ … as long as people don’t have a problem with Jesus Christ’s teachings then they are welcome to be a part of our choir.”

The choir is a non-profit group that started out as a church choir in the Genesis group. Due to a growing interfaith membership in the choir as well as increasing success, in 2015, the choir became the Unity Gospel Choir. Bonner said they have sung for BYU, at the Stadium of Fire and with Tim McGraw.

The event focused on unity despite differences in faiths, as emphasized by an event speaker Imam Muhammad Shoayb Mehtar of the Khadeejah Mosque.

“Even when we disagree … we should do so in a loving and kind and gentle manner, and once a person does this, you are fulfilling the message of God on earth by becoming the very best stewards that we can be,” Mehtar said.

The Unity Gospel Choir was the final performance in the Sacred Music Evening. The whole room stood and clapped along to the gospel music, including Sister Neill F. Marriott of the LDS Young Women’s General Presidency.

The evening closed with the choir and audience singing together “Let There Be Peace on Earth” followed by a benediction by Father Elias Koucos of the Greek Orthodox Church.

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