Tonight and Sunday – Interfaith Prayer Response to Charleston Murders

African American and Jewish friendship is the antidote to hatred and fear. Synagogue and African American Church pray together in solidarity against a common threat.

A tragedy happened in Charleston, North Carolina on June 17 that has the power to terrorize all African Americans. The historian Edward Ball noted in the New York Times today that these historic black churches are “tethered to the deep unconscious of the black community.”

Like the reaction of Jews recently after the murders in Paris, today African Americans are again feeling their vulnerability to hate and violence. It is a sense of lurking danger that they share with their Jewish brothers and sisters. Both communities are all too often the targets of hatred and violence. Combatting this hate is a common cause for both Jews and African Americans.

Tonight, June 19, and again on Sunday morning, June 21, Jews and African Americans will come together as people of faith and as friends to express their common sense of horror at the violence so often directed at each of them.

Tonight, Temple Beth El, the oldest Jewish Congregation in Michigan, and Greater New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, where civil rights leader and long time executive director of the NAACP, Reverend Benjamin Hooks, had preached for years, will share their weekend services with each other.

At the 7 p.m. Friday night Shabbat service at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills, Rabbi Mark Miller will open his pulpit to Pastor Kenneth J. Flowers of Greater New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, who will preach on their common need to combat hate, racism and anti-Semitism together.

Then again at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, Pastor Flowers will invite Rabbi Miller into his pulpit where Rabbi Miller will offer special remarks on the responsibility of Jews and African Americans to combat hate, racism and anti-Semitism.

Hand in hand these two prominent congregations lead by their pastor and rabbi will strengthen the bonds of friendship and pledge practical action to lead their congregations in combatting hate.

Both faith leaders have been active in the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit (IFLC). The Council has helped to organize this important congregational interchange and is encouraging other faith groups to also show their solidarity with the African American community during this time of great sorrow and heightened fear.

According to IFLC Chairman, Bob Bruttell,  “We may not be able to turn our tears into dancing at this time, but faith and friendship are a powerful antidote to hatred and fear. The example of these two congregations is a model for how to build solidarity in the face of alarming malice.”


Pastor Kenneth J. Flowers, (313) 595-9513

Rabbi Mark Miller, (713) 906-7977

Bob Bruttell, (248) 867-7025