By Mary O’KEEFE
Unity was the theme of the Second Annual Crescenta Valley Prayer Breakfast, held on Tuesday morning at the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints in La Crescenta.
The event represented not only different churches, but also different faiths including Christian, Jewish and Islamic.
Master of ceremonies Arick Gevorkian spoke of the diversity of the Crescenta Valley community and the need for unity. That desire for unity was echoed by event speakers.
“We are gathered here today to show we have more commonalities than differences,” said Marwa Abdelghani, president of the Crescenta Valley High School Muslim Student Association.
She shared a story about a prophet who stood when a funeral procession passed. Someone asked why he stood because the deceased was not Islamic. He replied that he stood because the deceased was a fellow human being.
“I think of that [often],” she said. “There is no reason for us to disrespect one another.”
Abdelghani added that she has partnered with a Christian club at CVHS in an effort for members to better know each other and to learn from each other.
Keynote speaker CVHS teacher Jim Smiley relayed how diversity was embraced within his own family.
“My mom was Catholic and my dad was Baptist,” he said. He told about having friends from different religions and then “finding the love of my life who is Muslim.”
The breakfast was also a chance to focus on foothills youth. There were several youth representatives from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as a few from the Prom Plus Club at CVHS. Though Tuesday was a late start for students at the high school, it appeared that most preferred to stay in bed rather than attend the early morning breakfast. However, the CVHS Charismatics were on hand to perform, as were the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Explorer’s Color Guard.
Smiley blended the unity of the community with support for youth.
“There was a troubled youth Indian brave who was in great turmoil,” Smiley began.
The young brave went to the wisest man in the tribe, his grandfather, and described a terrible fight between two wolves. One was evil representing greed, regret, anger, envy, arrogance, self-pity and ego. The other was good, representing joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, faith, truth, compassion and humility.
The young boy, Smiley said, was conflicted and asked his grandfather which wolf would win.
“His grandfather said, “The one that you nourish,’” Smiley said. “Nourishment is the choices we make.”
Smiley added that this type of unifying event is something that helps nourish kids in a positive way.
Focusing on the youth was the topic Cheryl Davis, president of CV Town Council, commented on.
“I just spent two weekends of 24-hour events with kids with Relay for Life and Prom Plus,” she said. “We have raised a wonderful group of kids in CV … Get to know them. They cherish the time we spend with them.”
She also had a request for all those in the room: “Stay involved.”
The prayer breakfast was sponsored by the CV Town Council with support from numerous local organizations. It was chaired by CVTC member Harry Leon and co-chaired by fellow member Danette Erickson.
It was an early morning and about 200 people were in attendance. Organizers were pleased with the turnout and are planning a third prayer breakfast, however after waking up early to get to the event, Gevorkian had a suggestion.
“Maybe the next one could be a prayer brunch or maybe even a prayer lunch would be nice,” he said.