Hundreds share faiths, cultures during Bensalem Unity Week

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Bensalem Unity Week brought together hundreds of people in nine local houses of worship last week to recognize the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.

People of diverse faith backgrounds shared their cultures and beliefs with one another through a weeklong schedule of events in Bensalem, Trevose and Levittown.

“We are all one. We are all people who are different and we are all people who are the same,” said Monsignor Kenneth McAteer, pastor of St. Ephrem Church during the event there last Tuesday. “Let us be sure to treat one another with respect. Let us learn to listen to one another.”

Students from the school choir sung religious songs, ending with “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” and those present were invited to a luncheon afterward.

It seemed much different than the event at BAPs Swaminarayan Temple in Levittown later that evening, but there was a notable mutual respect.

In the Hindu temple, members prepared a presentation to teach newcomers about Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPs Swaminarayan Sanstha, who passed away last April at the age of 95.

Member Suketu Patel shared background information on the culture of the congregation and reflected on the current political climate in America.

The next day, Mongkoltepmunee Buddhist Temple in Bensalem was bursting with people. Five Monks performed a chant to prepare those gathered for meditation, before the crowd fell completely silent for a minute-long reflection.

Religious leaders, community members and elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, Bensalem Mayor Joe DiGIrolamo and members of township council, each attended some of the events.

“Gaining knowledge of multi-diverse cultures provides one with a broader understanding and encourages acceptance and tolerance”, DiGirolamo said.

The events were organized by Building a Better Bensalem Together, a local nonprofit that has organized Unity Week for the past 12 years.

These were just snapshots into the cultural identities of some of the Bensalem community’s religious and spiritual institutions, but the sentiment across all faiths was that their doors are always open.

Other events took place through the week at the Love Fellowship Tabernacle, Linconia Tabernacle, Faith Unity Islamic Center, Bensalem United Methodist Church, Congregation Tifereth Israel Synagogue and Saint Katharine Shrine and Mission Center. ••

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