Service offers 'inspiring' common ground

2012-01-09T00:00:00Z 2014-08-05T10:29:23Z Service offers 'inspiring' common groundCarol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 09, 2012 12:00 am  • 

In a perfect world, it is often said, people of all faiths would embrace each other and celebrate their common humanity.

On Sunday, 1,000 or so Tucsonans got a glimpse of that world while reflecting on Jan. 8.

Muslims and Jews, Sikhs and Buddhists, Catholics and Lutherans worshipped side-by-side at St. Augustine Cathedral at an interfaith service honoring those who perished and those who survived the Jan. 8 shootings.

The question of what to call a supreme being - Jesus? Allah? Jehovah? - was solved simply by Tom Dunham, pastor of Streams in the Desert Lutheran Church, who referred to God as "the Holy One."

"We celebrate the Holy One who gave us life and who made us cherish life more because of this tragedy," Dunham told those assembled at 192 S. Stone Ave.

Moments later, the sound of a Native American flute, played by Larry Redhouse of the Navajo Nation, echoed off the cathedral's arched ceilings.

The Koran, a Jewish menorah, a bronze Buddha and other artifacts of different faiths formed a display in the center of the church, along with six red roses - one for each victim killed.

The flowers were placed one by one in a vase near the altar as names of the dead were read aloud.

Family members of victims Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck and Gabe Zimmerman sat solemnly during the tribute, bowing heads or closing their eyes.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, shooting survivor Ron Barber and Daniel Hernandez Jr., who aided Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the shooting's aftermath, also attended.

Relatives of victims said they were deeply moved by the service.

"Lovely," declared Judy McKay, 70, a great-aunt of victim Zimmerman, who traveled from her home in Idaho to attend.

"It's obvious that all the people who died and were injured are still in the hearts of the people of Tucson," she said.

Strangers who came to pay respects also were touched.

"It was beautiful," said Regina Suitt, 47, a northwest-side resident, who brought along her husband and two daughters.

"The multifaith approach was inspiring," she said.

"What a great example for all of us to follow."

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at or at 573-4138.

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