Thursday, August 11, 2005 | A group of about 50 people waving purple balloons, colorfully-painted crosses and prayer books in English, Yiddish, Spanish and Arabic marched from the shadows of City Hall on Wednesday.

United by a common interest in prayer and crises, representatives and friends of more than 30 faith-based organizations in San Diego traveled on foot between city headquarters, the County Courthouse, the California State Building and the Federal Courthouse, with lengthy pauses for prayer at each location.

Their words reflected both a diversity of religions and individual causes, with topics ranging from city corruption to minutemen at the border to world peace.

“It began with the conviction of Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet and the realization that the city is really in a terrible place,” said the Rev. Art Cribbs, pastor of Christian Fellowship Congregational Church in Emerald Hills, of his decision last month to organize a “Parade of Prayer.”

“As a person of faith, I believe prayer is a gift and an instrument that can give us clarity, help restore our sense of community and help us rely upon a power greater than ourselves,” he continued. “The only thing that can help San Diego is the power of prayer.”

The plan took on new dimensions as leaders from a variety of faiths including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism and Christian Science expressed interest in attending and speaking. The resulting medley of prayers in different languages expressed a common thread of concern over government corruption and humanitarian crises all over the globe.

Rabbi Laurie Coskey of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice spoke about San Diego’s trials in front of City Hall, reading from the Book of Lamentations, which “laments the sadness that befalls the city of Jerusalem.”

“We prayed that our city heals and … that the government of our city extend themselves to everyone that lives here, not only in support and assistance, but so that people can take steps towards self-sufficiency and towards strong and good representative government,” said Coskey.

An activist group called Border Angels, which opposes violence at the Mexican-American border, took the stage at the California State Building, praying on behalf of immigrants who have recently perished trying to enter California.

“We pray for the 3,200 migrants who have died at the border,” said Enrique Morones, the group’s leader. “We believe the minutemen are causing deaths by forcing immigrants into more dangerous places.”

By the time a dwindling crowd reached the Federal Courthouse one hour and a half later, unplanned speakers were spontaneously chiming in with words on disparate topics. One woman gave a tearful speech that made references to her childhood, while others expressed their appreciation for the spirit of unity that pervaded the event.

“I support the idea of a prayerful presence to heal the city,” said Luis Morones, of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. “Buddhists also believe in prayer and meditation as a way to change ourselves and hopefully the community around us, as we become aware of how connected we all are.”

Cribbs closed in prayer in front of the Federal Courthouse, asking for “the removal … of any words that separate us from one another.” These words, he said, include “minutemen,” “insurgent” and “combatant.”

“We are all one. San Diego, the U.S., the Americas and people of the world,” said Cribbs.

Please contact Jessica L. Horton directly at

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