More than 100 people wearing kippahs, crosses, and face masks gathered on the Hyannis Village Green on Monday for a multi-faith memorial service in honor of George Floyd.
Leaders from the Jewish, Bahai, Christian, and Buddhist faiths said it was also an opportunity to grieve, repent, and lament the deaths of Black and brown people killed by police.
“My faith helps me keep going and gives me hope for the future,” explained organizer and Reverend Kristen Harper. “And I think the language of faith does that for people.”
Examining racial injustice from a multi-faith perspective is crucial, she added.
“That brings so many more voices and more people together and allows different expressions,” she said. “From atheistic, to Christian, to Buddhist to Hindu to Jewish. I mean, it allows everything. And it says you’re all welcome here.”
Near the end of the event, James Kershner, founder of Cape Sangha, a Buddhist center in Hyannis, asked crowd members to close their eyes and join him in a meditative breathing exercise.
“Breathing in, I mourn the death of George Floyd,” he said. “Breathing out, I see a need for change.“
Faith can offer people a moral center, Harper said, but the real work is in learning to apply the values that faith provides.
“They speak to so many different people and they move us,” she said. “They can move us.”
At the evening service, each reverend, rabbi, and clergy member encouraged people to examine their own racism, and learn to become anti-racist.
The service was the latest in a series of protests, vigils, calls for action in the wake of Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25.