In a celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and diversity in Bensalem, several local places of worship are opening their doors to the community for Unity Week from Jan. 16 to 20.
“Living together in harmony with diversity in our community is important,” said Toby Kahn, an organizer from Building A Better Bensalem Together, or B3T, the organization that held the event for the last 12 years. “People of different backgrounds and faiths can get together and get along beautifully.”
The week kicks off with a breakfast celebration at Parx Casino at 8 a.m. on Monday, then continues through the week with events at Love Fellowship Tabernacle, Linconia Tabernacle, St. Ephrem Church, BAPs Swaminarayan Temple, Mongkoltepmunee Buddhist Temple, Faith Unity Islamic Center, Bensalem United Methodist Church, Congregation Tifereth Israel and the Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel.
Parx became involved last year when Ron Davis, the casino’s director of community development, asked B3T if Parx could host the breakfast.
“He’s active in the community,” Kahn said of Davis. “They approached us about it. It wasn’t our suggestion.”
For the faith groups involved, each is able to share with the community something about their traditions. In the past, B3T suggested that the ceremonies recognize or quote Dr. King, but this year the organization left it open-ended, and groups can gear the celebration more toward their faiths.
Last year, for example, three Monks at the Mongkoltepmunee Buddhist Temple led participants in chants for love, kindness and peacefulness. At Bensalem United Methodist Church, students from the Bensalem Christian Day School held American flags and sang some faith-based songs for those gathered.
“It’s one of the most important things we do here in Bensalem,” said Mayor Joe DiGirolamo last week. “I look forward to it growing every year. We have so many houses of worship here, we want to accommodate everyone.”
This is not the only event B3T holds through the year, but it’s one of the most important.
The group’s expressed mission is to provide resources for the community to reduce substance abuse and other adolescent problem behaviors. B3T’s diversity committee, chaired by Kahn, sees this as an opportunity for members of the community to engage each other toward the common goal of unity and respect.
“We live in a very busy society,” Kahn said. “It’s great that other people want to share these experiences. That’s what it’s all about.” •
Full schedule of Unity Week events:
Monday, Jan. 16
8 to 9 a.m. – Parx East Breakfast Celebration
2999 Street Road, Bensalem
Noon – Love Fellowship Tabernacle
5918 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem
7 p.m. – Linconia Tabernacle
2460 Paris Ave., Trevose
Tuesday, Jan. 17
Noon – St. Ephrem Church
5240 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem
6 p.m. – BAPs Swaminarayan Temple
1561 Woodbourne Road, Levittown
Wednesday, Jan. 18
Noon – Mongkoltepmunee Buddhist Temple
3304 Knights Road, Bensalem
6:30 p.m. – Faith Unity Islamic Center
Newport Fire House, 5961 Bensalem Blvd., Bensalem
Thursday, Jan. 19
11 a.m. – Bensalem United Methodist Church
4300 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem
6:30 p.m. – Congregation Tifereth Israel Synagogue
2909 Bristol Road, Bensalem
Friday, Jan. 20
Noon – St. Katharine Drexel Shrine
1663 Bristol Pike, Bensalem