“What greater purpose is there that can’t be argued with than helping people to not die? There are no doctrinal differences, it’s about keeping people from dying when it’s cold outside.” — Richard Haddad, QCIC
Homelessness during a Prescott winter is no joke. After a man died from exposure over a decade ago, a handful of individuals connected to several faith groups came together to provide overflow housing and transportation to local shelters on freezing nights. The initiative was named Operation Deep Freeze, and it continues to this day.
The organizing group grew into the Quad-City Interfaith Council, an informal grassroots organization with members and servant-leaders of the many faith communities of Yavapai County. To raise funds to support this effort, QCIC organized a concert. “It was perceived as a way to bring people together to honor a variety of faith traditions, to learn what different traditions bring to the table in terms of giving thanks at this time of the year,” says Christine Mack, faith-relations liaison for Habitat for Humanity and longtime QCIC participant. Members of all faith traditions were invited to share their religious traditions by performing or reading from their sacred texts.
This Celebration of Thanks concert started as a fundraiser, but has become an annual cultural event with free-will offerings and collection of nonperishable food items for local food pantries. This year’s donations will go to the Community Cupboard.
Over the years the number of faith groups participating in the concert has grown and the event has attracted ever-larger audiences as a beautiful and moving testimony of community support. “It’s super-heartwarming to see what can happen when people put aside politics and worldly cares and just think about what it means to be thankful, and not just thankful to a deity, but thankful for one another, for good people in our lives. It helps us to not focus on the things that bring us down,” says Richard Haddad, founding member of QCIC, who wrote the vision and mission statements for the group.
This year’s participants will include:
Temple B’rith Shalom
The High Desert Handbell Choir
The Beautiful Signers (a deaf choir)
Readings from Muslim and Buddhist sacred texts
Dancing by the Prescott Sufi Circle
Gospel Singers from St. Luke’s Ebony Church
The LDS Children’s Choir
The Interfaith Choir (includes members of the Granite
Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and
Trinity Presbyterian Church)
All are welcome to this free event and asked to bring a nonperishable food offering to leave at the door. The concert will take place at Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 6pm Thursday, November 17. Refreshments and fellowship will be available afterward.