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WNC hosts first multi-faith service for grads

Special to the Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison / Nevada Photo Service
Cathleen Allison | Nevada Photo Source

Western Nevada College held the first Baccalaureate service consisting of a sermon delivered to the graduating class on May 20. Faith leaders belonging to Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and Native American traditions blessed the graduates with their respective prayers in this Service. Dance and music also formed part of this ceremony and a representative of non-believers also addressed the service.

Religious leaders who participated included Father Charles T. Durante of Saint Teresa of Avila Catholic Community; 1st United Methodist Church Pastor Reverend Dixie Jennings-Teats; George Marion Keele of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Quorum of the Seventy Member; President of the Northern Nevada Muslim Community Doctor Sherif A. Elfass; President of the Universal Society of Hinduism Rajan Zed; Reverend Jikai’ Phil Bryan of the Reno Buddhist Center; Rabbi Evon J. Yakar of Temple Bat Yam; Baha’i teacher Catherine B. Thayer and Paiute Elder Ralph E. Burns. Patrick J. McCarthy from Reno Freethinkers (atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, etc., promoting secular values) also addressed the service.

Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall and Carson City Mayor Robert L. Crowell rendered advice to the graduates. Acclaimed classical musician from India Thakur Chakrapani Singh; prominent dancer Doctor L. Martina Young; area musician Jim R. Eaglesmith and tabla expert Pete Fairley blessed the graduating class through their respective mediums. Starting with traditional lamp lighting, it also included a choir performance titled “Benediction” directed by James M. Weismann. It closed with diverse faith and other leaders, with their raised right hands, jointly repeating a universal prayer after Douglas Diversity Student Club of WNC Secretary Jesseca Pacheco Larios, thus blessing graduates present and in absentia.