Local clergy answer antisemitism with peace

Sharing their message of peace are, from left, Rev. Linda Spiers, Rev. Dr. Jan Gregory-Charpentier, Rabbi Marci Bellows, Rev. Joy Perkett, Rev. Brendan McCormick, Rev. W. Alan Froggatt, and Rev. Benjamin Straley.

VALLEY/SHORE — “In the face of growing antisemitic violence, we must take action,” said the Rev. Joy Perkett as she held a sign that read “Peace.”

Reverend Perkett was one of seven local clergy, from both Christian and Jewish backgrounds, who gathered for a peace vigil in Deep River on Jan. 15 at noon. Each of them held a sign of peace as they stood at the corner of Routes 80 and 154 and connected with local passersby.

“We Jews feel an immense sense of alarm at the increased frequency of violent antisemitic attacks across the country,” explained Rabbi Marci Bellows, rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester, “Standing strong with our Christian brothers and sisters sends a critical message of solidarity and friendship, especially at a time when we feel so divided or isolated. We know that - together with our neighbors - we are not alone in the fight against hatred and bigotry.”

The Rev. W. Alan Froggatt, minister of the United Church of Chester, added, “I’m standing with my interfaith colleagues today because together we are all children of Abraham. When we focus on the ways that we are connected, we break down the false barriers that conspire to divide us. God calls us together to build community.”

“I am here because I want to be a presence for peace in my community,” noted Reverend Perkett, pastor of The First Baptist Church in Essex. “I am heartbroken by the attacks on the Jewish people in their sacred places of worship and during their holy days of celebration. The poison of hate threatens the safety of every community. It is imperative that we model a different way of being, a way of peace, non-violent communication, justice, and loving community across difference.”

“In this most partisan of eras when hate and violence are being encouraged as a response to difference, I believe simply standing in solidarity is an important witness,” commented the Rev. Dr. Jan Gregory-Charpentier, pastor of First Congregational Church of Westbrook. “This particular kind of hatred, antisemitism, is one people of faith especially need to stand against. And this kind of love, for my Jewish sisters and brothers, is one that I need to publicly stand for.”

“The work to combat antisemitism does not end today,” Reverend Perkett reflected. “It continues in conversations with family, friends, and co-workers. It continues in the interfaith dinners that my colleagues and I regularly host. It continues in each brave act that honors the dignity of the human person. For me, that is what faith is all about.”

— Submitted press release

Connecticut Media Group