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Interfaith Discussion Highlights Dr. King’s Dream

by Janelle Hill Feb 23, 2021

Religious leaders from around the region came together for a virtual interfaith discussion about race and inclusivity.

“Dr. King’s Dream: Many Faiths, One Mission” featured Father Kevin Nadolski, OSFS, vice president for mission at DeSales; Father Steve Thorne, pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish in North Philadelphia; and Rev. Bob Machamer, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Boyertown. Scott Blair, DeSales’ associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, moderated the discussion. 

Fr. Nadolski began the conversation with an opening prayer, asking for a spirit of creative listening and understanding. The panel then explored a number of topics, including an interfaith approach to equity, Black spirituality and the Black experience, and building a greater sense of understanding in the church. 

“We all know that Dr. King was a pragmatist,” said Rev. Machamer, who acknowledged that he serves in the whitest denomination in the country. “When it comes to the questions of equity, we cannot avoid the incredible vision that we create for our people—and it doesn’t matter if it’s Catholic or Lutheran. We can’t claim to be a community founded on the incredible vision of a heavenly banquet if we don’t have enough chairs at the table or if the chairs are labeled with certain people’s names.” 

Fr. Thorne, who also serves as director of the Office for Black Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, spoke about unity and the idea of oneness. He also encouraged the audience to be activists, not just allies. 

“We saw in 2020 another pandemic called racism,” he said. “It pulled back the curtain on what we as Black people already knew—the reality of racism. True privilege means that I have to give up some of my power so we can have equity. It’s a constant work we have to do to call ourselves Christians.” 

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Center for Faith and Justice-Campus Ministry hosted the event in honor of Black History Month.