Fort Bend Interfaith Community hosts annual Thanksgiving services, with 13 groups and hundreds of attendees

People from a broad range of religious traditions attend the Fort Bend Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at St. Laurence Catholic Church on Monday, Nov. 21. The service celebrated the diversity of Fort Bend County

“We’re all here to give thanks, respect and revere each other and get to know each other a little better, and to pray for peace in the world, in our county, in our family and in our hearts,” the Rev. Drew Wood, pastor at St. Laurence Catholic Church, tells the gathering.

Hindus of Greater Houston perform a short play explaining the lives of Hindu gods Ram and Krishna.

Members of Fort Bend’s Sikh community sing a Punjabi hymn from the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib that says, “People call you by numerous names, but you are one. One cause of everything, and merciful. Thank you for your bounties.”

Despite gloomy weather, warmth prevailed inside the expansive, wood-paneled hall of St. Laurence Catholic Church on Monday night in Sugar Land, where members of Fort Bend County’s many religious communities gathered in love and friendship for an interfaith Thanksgiving service.

“The last one we did was in November of 2019, and we had no idea what was coming three months later,” said St. Laurence’s pastor, the Rev. Drew Wood, as he recalled the hardships that would come with the pandemic. “It’s been painful and very rough on all of us. But it’s three years later and we’re still here; so we have a lot to give thanks for.  If you listen to the media, you’ll think there are not many of us who aren’t angry all the time. But I’m not angry, and I don’t think you are, either.”

The first Fort Bend Interfaith Thanksgiving service took place eight years ago. In 2020 and 2021, the event was moved online. 

Around 200 people, representing various ages, faiths and backgrounds were present.  The program included prayers from different faiths and denominations interspersed with reflections about the importance of giving.

“We adhere to a centuries-old tradition of Shia values that are expressed through a commitment to a search for knowledge and betterment of society,” said Murad Ajani, president of the Ismaili Council for the Southwestern United States.  “These include embracing pluralism by building bridges of peace and understanding and generously sharing one’s time, talents and material resources to improve the quality of life of the community.”

The official symbol of Unitarian Universalism is a flaming chalice. Betty Johnson, representing the Thoreau Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Bend, offered the following prayer after lighting a chalice.

“We are people of all ages, who enter this space bringing our joys and concerns. … We light a chalice to symbolize our interdependence and our unity. We mourn and celebrate. We strive for justice and mercy. We sing and pray and listen. We come together to worship.”
 

Members of Fort Bend’s Sikh community sang a Punjabi hymn from Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhism is amongst the youngest of the major world religions. It developed around 500 years ago in India, from the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak.

“I’ve lived in this area for 25 years; so to see all the different cultures and faiths come together is very interesting,” said attendee Nancy Brock, a teacher at Oyster Creek Elementary School. “It’s great to see what my students believe.”

Fort Bend’s Baháʼí community was represented by Ghazaleh Ranjbar from the Baháʼí Faith of Sugar Land and Fort Bend. She shared an extract from the writings of Abdu’l Baha, eldest son of the religion’s founder, Baháʼu’lláh.

“A man must observe and see what is the will of God and act accordingly… Consider how grateful anyone becomes when healed from sickness when treated kindly by another or when a service is rendered by another even though it may be of the least consequence. Physically and spiritually, we are submerged in a sea of God’s favor. He has provided our food, drink, and other requirements.”

The Baháʼí Faith, which teaches unity and essential worth of all religions, was established in the 19th century in Iran and parts of the Middle East.

“Thanksgiving is one of the main attributes in the life of the believer in Jesus Christ,” said Lela Burgess from the Horizon Baptist Church. “’Thank you’ is our password to God’s presence and it’s the key that unlocks miracles. The Bible tells us that whenever we come before God, whatever our purpose or our prayer request, we are always to come with a thankful heart. I only have one regret that it took me so long to learn to be thankful.”

Cantor Renee Waghalter and Jan Poscov from Congregation Beth El shared a prayer for the community written by Rabbi Richard Levy.

“May we gain wisdom in our lives, overflowing like a river with understanding. May our deeds exceed our speech; may we never lift up our hand but to conquer fear and doubt and despair, rise up like Son of God, over all humanity, cause light to go forth over all the lands between the seas in light of the universe with joy, freedom and peace.”

One of the world’s oldest religions, Jainism, was represented by the JBB Jain Society of Houston. Jains are devout vegetarians and pacifists, often covering their face with a cloth mask to avoid inhaling tiny insects.

Practitioners from the Universal Door Meditation Center in Sugar Land illustrated their message with the clear water demonstration, emphasizing that humans are all pure, clear water muddied by worldly desires and influences.

Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH) performed a short play explaining the lives of Hindu gods Ram and Krishna.

“It’s my job to make everybody else attend,” said Vijay Pollod from HGH, one of the organizers. “We reached out to Buddhist and Jain communities and encouraged them to come. The turnout has been great this year.”

“Bringing Hindus together” is the prime purpose of Hindus of Greater Houston

We conduct two very important meetings where all Hindu organizations meet together

Advisory Board members Meeting at Arya Samaj
July 29th 2017

Houston Hindu Leaders Meeting at Ashtalakshmi Temple
Aug 5, 2017

Bhagawad Gita

Chapter 3 Verse 9

यज्ञार्थात्कर्मणोऽन्यत्र लोकोऽयं कर्मबन्धन: |
तदर्थं कर्म कौन्तेय मुक्तसङ्ग: समाचर || 9||

yajñārthāt karmaṇo ’nyatra loko ’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ
tad-arthaṁ karma kaunteya mukta-saṅgaḥ samāchar

Selfless service to others and diligently work without any attachment to fruits of action is the best way to attain liberation.

our vision

To promote Hindu Solidarity

To provide guidance and function as a support as an umbrella organization protecting the needs of all the Hindus in the Greater Houston area and beyond.

To inspire Hindus the splendor of our convictions and traditions.

To propagate understanding and dispel misinformation about our faith.

To coexist with camaraderie, cooperation and compassion with all factions of other faiths.

To build a strong community that continues to thrive amongst unity in diversity.

To persevere cultural and religious activities of our community.

To provide a platform for all Hindu causes

To serve and nurture Hindu Values

To uphold lofty ideals of Sanatana Dharma, its values and its principles.

 

OUR PURPOSE

Hindus in America need a forum to forge distinctly an identity and be tightly woven into national fabric of USA. To keep up with the spiritual needs of Hindu community in Houston we have built many Hindu Temples and Institutions that will provide an atmosphere to recreate a religious setting for our next generation. Only through the united effort undertaken by The Hindus of Greater Houston we can help create better awareness of our faith and expel misconception in the main stream and and accomplish enviable legacy of success along with unity of purpose.The richness of Hinduism was introduced by Swami Vivekananda to USA in 1893, bringing the world attention to both tolerance and universal acceptance.

 

Hindus of Houston diligently will pursue to preserve its pristine purity.

 

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Testimonial Background

Youth can have a huge impact about a change in this world, if only they can realize and manifest their own full potential.
Hindus of Greater Houston are doing an exemplary job to promote a sense of service in Youth. I really appreciate their effort.

-Tulsi Gabbard