The inspiration behind A Call for Unity

How sweet the sound: the young women of Christian Brothers High School’s Traditional Choir at the 2005 <i>A Call for Unity</i> event.

How sweet the sound: the young women of Christian Brothers High School’s Traditional Choir at the 2005 A Call for Unity event.

Music can often be your scout. It can open your eyes, clear the cobwebs from your mind and expand your heart to let in extra love or extra grief. That’s what it did for me on the afternoon of September 11, six years ago.

As I pulled into the SN&R parking lot, I heard NPR play “Amazing Grace” by Judy Collins. I had been stunned and saddened by the day’s events, and that song gave me comfort and strength. On that tragic day, “Amazing Grace” was my scout.

When the SN&R staff later discussed how to cover the anniversary of September 11, I remembered that moment in the parking lot. I remembered the power of “Amazing Grace”.

The events of September 11 touched all of us—all races, religions, cultures, economic classes, political affiliations and sexual orientations. We share a common grief over this tragedy. So it seemed appropriate that we should come together on the anniversary to share that which has expanded our hearts: our music.

In partnership with the Interfaith Service Bureau, SN&R created A Call for Unity. The event brought Sacramento faith organizations together for a night of music to benefit Habitat for Humanity.

Since our first A Call for Unity event, Sacramento Habitat for Humanity has been transformed. Instead of building one or two homes per year, Habitat now completes 12 homes per year. We’ve helped establish a restore for Sacramento Habitat where we resell donated building supplies that would have gone to landfills. The Restore nets over half a million dollars annually, allowing us to build two extra homes each year.

SN&R has also partnered with Rebuilding Together to restore 200 hundred homes for the elderly in Sacramento.

For five years, A Call for Unity has highlighted Sacramento’s incredible diversity through special, memorable moments: Sacramento’s Sikh leader, Darshan Singh Mundy, pulling out two small American flags at the first A Call for Unity celebration. The incredible Slavic Baptist Church singing a beautiful and familiar hymn in Russian. Rabbi Brad Bloom presenting the first Building Unity Award to his Muslim peer, Dr. Metwalli Amer, and the ceremony’s broadcast on Egyptian television. The phenomenal presence of the Spiritual Life Center. The exceptional Gospel performances. The solitary prayers of a Buddhist leader, whose drumming on a spiritual bowl resonated throughout the Mondavi Center. These are among the many brilliant performers who come together to reflect Sacramento’s religious diversity.

Now in our sixth year, we are delighted to welcome a new memorable moment: when The Worship Team from Bayside of South Sacramento will sing with The Nong Shala Youth Choir from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the first Hmong group to perform at A Call For Unity.

We will also honor one of Sacramento’s most esteemed leaders, Kais Menoufy. The local software company owner has worked generously and diligently to support numerous interfaith efforts in Sacramento.

The Capital Unity Council and The Interfaith Service Bureau, will join us in presenting this concert.

The Capital Unity Council, led by this year’s emcee, Senator Darrell Steinberg, was formed in 1999 after the local synagogue bombings. After years of hard work, the Council is preparing to open their new museum. The inspiration for this important community space was similar to the motivation that sparked A Call for Unity: Pain gave way to a sense of purpose. We have been inspired to create a future of tolerance, unity, peace and hope.

Please join us on Saturday, September 8, at A Call for Unity.