A benefit concert and dinner held at Boston's Old South church April 29th netted more than 44,000 for refugee Immigration Ministry (RIM), a Church World Service affiliate. The international program and historic venue helped RIM reach beyond those already familiar with its work.
Among newcomers were two Muslim women - university students - who happened to be passing by just as Dr. Kamal Youcef-Toumi was leading the Islamic Call to Prayer at the
start of the program. They came in, thrilled to hear the Call coming out of Old South Church, said RIM's Director Ruth Bersin.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, President of the United Church of Christ's Massachusetts Conference, reflected, "Our differences -- in culture, language, religion, appearance -- our differences are an enormous gift! God made us different in the hope that our hearts might expand beyond what a familiar ... and when we see the world through the eyes of a stranger, the most human response is the response taught by each of our religious traditions: We want to do whatever we can to make that stranger feel at home."
The Triveni Dance Ensemble performed Indian classical dance at the benefit concert. Also on the program: Dr. Douglas Major, Music Director at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Marblehead, organist; the Old South Ringers; the Old South Choir; RIM clients performing Rwandan folk dances, and the Congolese Choir from St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church.
Jude Goldman, Executive Director of the Lenny Zakim fund, offered closing remarks.