The NJ Coalition of Religious Leaders gathered in Trenton , NJ for the formal semi-annual gathering in order to further the work of the already established Task Force that aims to address the vital legislature in the Great State of New Jersey, as it pertains to Criminal Justice, Housing, Environmental Issue and Reparation.
The New Jersey Coalition of Religious Leaders, some fifty years old, represents religious leadership from Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faith traditions. The Coalition's membership of some sixty-five faith leaders includes Bishops, Imams, Rabbis, Denominational Executives and faith based public policy executives.
Prior to the beginning of the formal session, the NJ Coalition of Religious Leaders Honored His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, and in his person the entire Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the peace-loving people and nation of Ukraine.
Five representatives of the major religious communities of NJ presented prayers for His Eminence, the UOC of the USA and the people of Ukraine. The words of prayerful support were offered by Cardinal Joseph Tobin (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, NJ), Palas Shah, Vaishali Patel, Harish Brahmbhatt (Hindu Communities of NJ), Rabbi David Vaisberg (Jewish Communities of NJ), Imam Hamad Chebli (Muslim Communities of NJ) and Amman Seehra (Sikh Communities of NJ).
In the presence of the NJ Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senator Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy Muniz, Archbishop Daniel received an award in support of the Humanitarian Efforts during the time of war in Ukraine.
The NJ Coalition issued a following statement, signed by 50 members of the organization, stating:
To His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony and His Eminence Archbishop Daniel:
We write to you as Colleagues in Faith and in response to your statement “Pray for Ukraine!” As members of the New Jersey Coalition of Religious Leaders, an interfaith Coalition of Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh Faith Leaders, we unite with you in our prayers for Peace and the well-being of the people of Ukraine. We pray for the Ukrainian people whose lives and freedoms are threatened. Our prayers are with all peoples in harm’s way, including civilians, children, and the elderly. Those seeking refuge and asylum, those defending their freedom in this tragic time of war. We pray for all the leaders and people living in fear and are caught in the crossfire. We mourn the loss of all life. We pray for world leaders to pursue all diplomatic efforts to bring a just resolution for the Ukrainian people. We condemn Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and their violating international law.
Do know in this difficult time for you and your faithful congregants we stand with you and join in prayer beseeching loving kindness and abundant Blessings upon the people of Ukraine during these days of great danger for their safety and wellbeing. We stand with you in solidarity with the Ukrainian Churches in New Jersey. We lift up in our prayers Ukrainian brothers and sisters here in New Jersey whom many are deeply concerned about their loved ones who are living in Ukraine. We will seek to discern ways in this tragic moment that we can witness together as people of faith seeking justice and peace for your beloved homeland. We will encourage members in our faith communities to lift up the people of Ukraine in prayer. We offer up these prayers in the many names of our Sacred Creator whose desire for us is to live in peace with one another.
Following the presentation, Archbishop Daniel spoke to those in attendance about the importance of peace. He continued: “…We bishops, clergy and people all understand each other because we have all suffered at the hands of those who seek to destroy us, and to wipe us from the face of the earth. But, by the Grace of God we rise each time, like a phoenix from the ashes. We rise, and we build anew because it is impossible for the invaders to destroy the soul of the nation. The nation is the people. It is not the physical state, but the people. Through all the numerous invasions Ukraine has suffered, even the numerous times in this last century, the Holodomor, the Soviet repression, the expulsion of millions of Ukrainians to Siberia and imminent death, our people were hurt, they were crushed, and yet still deep inside, within their hearts and souls, they knew who they were, they knew from where they came, and they knew they had to rise up again and to rebuild everything that was destroyed. Today, we have the nation of Ukraine, who for 30 years enjoyed relative freedom and independence and is recognized by the entire world, including the Russian Federation, once again being savagely attacked, being killed by the thousands, women, innocent children, infirm elderly, being attacked simply because they are “in the way”. Being attacked because they do not wish to abide by the rules of a Totalitarian government. They want to continue enjoying the freedom they have tasted during these last 30 years. The freedom that they had in their hearts, for nearly the last 2,000 years.
His Eminence continued by stating that his soul is constantly fed when he reads the history of what the Ukrainian nation has overcome in this regard. How much they have had to fight back, and how much the nations had to rebuild. However, each time the nation only got stronger. He expressed that he believes with all his heart, that this is finally the time when the entire world will say, “no more war, no more torture, nor more killing, in Ukraine.” He continued that trying to subdue and own a free nation must come to an end. Ukraine is a free nation, and she will stand onto eternity as a free nation, and a free people.
Archbishop Daniel expressed his gratitude to the leadership of the NJ Coalition of Religious Leaders (Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz – president) for their desire to come and pray with and for the people of Ukraine, and saying “this is enough!” It is important for the world to see that other nations are standing up against the tyrannical regime and saying “enough” – not only for Ukraine, but for all the nations who have suffered in such a way.
His Eminence expressed that the Ukrainian faithful embrace people of all religious communities of NJ with their hearts and souls, and thanked them for their kindness and the love which they show to the Ukrainian people.
In conclusion of the program, the leadership of the NJ Coalition of Religious Leaders presented Archbishop Daniel with the framed certificate, depicting the outline of Ukraine, stating: ALL OUR PRAYERS TO UKRAINE”