Leaders Mark National Day of Prayer at the U.N.


Leaders of six of the world’s major religious bodies marked this country’s National Day of Prayer yesterday at a ceremony attended by 100 people in the chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations, at First Avenue and 44th Street.

The Rev. Dr. Dan M. Potter, executive director of the Council of Churches of the City of New York, called it the “most representative gathering of religious leaders ever held in the city.”

Sri Chinmoy, a Hindu and director of the United Nations Meditation Group, presided at the hour-long ceremony. He opened the meeting with silent prayer, standing behind a plain white marble altar.

Then, in brief comments, the leaders representing Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Baha’i and Muslim groups – called upon Americans to renew their “dedication to the eternal” in prayer and asked God to lead all the nations in “paths of righteousness.”

The speakers, in addition to Dr. Potter, included the following: Rabbi Samuel Geffen of the New York Board of Rabbis, Lozang Jamspal of the Buddhist Monastery of America, The Rev. Robert Kennedy of the Brooklyn Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, The Rev. Stephen Kyriacou of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, Catherine Mboye of the Baha’i International Community, Muddassir Ali Shamsee of the Muslim Prayer Group, Sheik Shahabu-d-din of the Sufi Order. The Rev. Grant Anderson of the Queens Federation of Churches, The Rev. Kenneth Folkes, president of the Council of Churches of the City of New York.

Dr. Potter said there was much for which we can thank God, but, we see so many shortcomings, so many failures, so many examples of injustice, inequality, discrimination, brutality, pain, suffering and interminable degrading violence to human dignity."

“We cannot celebrate this Bicentennial,” he added, “without feeling the compelling need to sit in sackcloth and ashes, in penance for our failure to God as well as our disappointment to fellow citizens.”

Following the commentaries, excerpts were read from President Ford’s statement proclaiming yesterday as a National Day of Prayer, the late President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address and the writings of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Sacred Fire, a 30-member choral group, sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “America the Beautiful.”


Representatives of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Baha'i and Muslim groups at prayer ceremony at the Church Center of the U.N

Published in THE NEW YORK TIMES, FRIDAY, JULY 25, 1975