A Letter of Thanksgiving from Guilford/Madison Interfaith Clergy
We, members of the clergy and other spiritual leaders in Guilford and Madison, extend our heartfelt wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving. We pray that this season of abundance also be a season of unity and fellowship for our community.
President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a holiday in 1863. It happened at the height of the Civil War: a time that pitted sibling against sibling and friend against friend. Grounding the holiday in distinctly American gratitude, he publicly proclaimed that Thanksgiving should combat our country’s “lamentable civil strife” and serve to “heal the wounds of the nation.”
Today, too, our country is torn by civil strife and catastrophic loss. As we write this letter, more than 750,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, approximately the same number who died in the Civil War. Now, as then, we are deeply divided about the legacy of slavery and the right way to move forward as a nation.
But it need not be this way. Here on the Connecticut shoreline, we are proud to uphold the values on which this country was founded: liberty, equal opportunity, and mutual responsibility:
This is a place where neighbors care for one another.
This is a place where reasonable people can disagree amicably.
This is a place where our children can learn and grow in safety and compassion.
This is a place of generosity.
We refuse for harsh political rhetoric in the national discourse to harm the culture of kindness we have cultivated over generations. We recognize the indigenous Menunkatuck band of the Quinnipiac peoples, who were the longtime stewards of this land. Together we share the ambitions that Guilford’s founders outlined in the Covenant of 1639: to “...sit down and join ourselves together...to be helpful each to other in any common work.” We share the hope that George Washington expressed many times, invoking the Hebrew Prophets: May the Children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
We wish a blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving to our entire community. May we find the right path together with abundance in our lives and kindness in our hearts.
Rev. Dr. Heather Arcovitch — senior minister, North Madison Congregational Church
Cantor Jennifer Boyle — Temple Beth Tikvah, Madison
The Rev. Dr. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham — First Congregational Church UCC Guilford
Ted Gutelius — First Church of Christ, Scientist, Guilford
Rabbi Susan Landau Moss — Yale New Haven Health (Guilford resident)
The Rev. Shariya Molegoda — St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Madison
Rabbi Danny Moss — Temple Beth Tikvah, Madison
Rev. Caitlin O’Brien — All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation, New London (Guilford resident)
Rabbi Emerita Stacy Offner — Temple Beth Tikvah, Madison
Rabbi Emeritus Hesch Sommer — Temple Beth Tikvah, Madison
Becky Stambaugh — Green’s Farms Church, Westport (Guilford resident)
Rev. Dave Stambaugh — Green’s Farms Church, Westport (Guilford resident)
The Rev. Terry Sweetser — Minister of Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society, Madison
Pastor Chris Syvertsen — lead pastor of Shoreline Vineyard Church, Guilford
Rev. Todd C. Vetter — First Congregational Church of Madison, UCC
Rev. Sarah E. Vetter — First Congregational Church of Madison, UCC
The Rev. Harrison West — Christ Episcopal Church of Guilford