Interfaith Council, Township And Police Officials Gather To Work For Peace, Unity

7-11-16 Interfaith Meeting - 1

Members of the Franklin Township Interfaith Council and representatives of the Township Council and Police Department at a meeting July 11.

Religious leaders, township officials and the police department’s top brass met July 11 in the Community/Senior Center to call for unity and peace in the wake of killings in Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas.

“We stand here today collectively to work in the community to make sure everybody has somebody and to make sure the police department knows that we stand here for you and by you,” said the Rev. Sharon Culley of Somerset Presbyterian Church. “It is up to us to make the commitment that we will not let evil come into our community without a fight.”

The meeting called by the township’s newly reformed Interfaith Council was attended by representatives from a number of the township’s houses of worship, including St. Matthias Catholic Church, Somerset Presbyterian Church, Middlebush Reformed Church, Six Mile Run Reformed Church, Shree Swaminarayan Temple, Masjid-e-Ali Mosque and Temple Beth-El.

Also attending were township Mayor Philip Kramer; Township Councilman Ted Chase; Police Chief Lawrence Roberts; Deputy Police Chief Richard Grammar; FTPD Capt. Gregory Borlan; Gary Rosenthal, chairman of the township Human Relations Commission, and Eva Nagy, president of the Franklin Township Dr. Martin Luther King Community Foundation.

In a statement read to the group, the council’s president, Alex Kharazi, wrote that “As a community of diverse faiths in Franklin Township, we mourn the tragic deaths of African-American victims of police shootings in St. Paul and Baton Rouge and the targeted killings of five police officers in Dallas. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of these victims and pray to give them strength and patience through this difficult time.”

“We stand united in calling for healing, unity, and justice,” Kharazi wrote. “We strongly affirm that all lives are sacred and must be valued.”

“We raise our collective voice to remind all that the overwhelming and vast majority of officers protect and serve our communities with distinction,” Kharazi wrote. “They are our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, friends, sports coaches, and mentors to countless young people and are the pillars of our community.”

Pastor George Montanari of Middlebush Reformed Church said the meeting was meant to “identify ways we can work together to foster a spirit of unity … to identify ways to work for peace.”

“We would be naive to think that Franklin is free from racial tensions,” he said, but “we can be grateful that our township” has not had the kind of racial strife experienced by other cities across the country.

This meeting, he said, “is one step toward strengthening the ties between the police and the community.”7-11-16 Interfaith Meeting - 3

Parviz Hamedani, vice president of the Masjid-e-Ali Mosque, thanked the police department.

“Sometimes I think we expect you to do everything,” he said to the officers at the meeting. “We want to know what we can do to help you.”

Chief Roberts told the group that the department “appreciates all the support that the council gives the men and women of the Franklin Township Police Department.”

Roberts said he “instills in the men and women what it means to work for the community.”

“If you come to work everyday and you do the right thing by yourself and your community, you won’t have any problem,” he said. “We all have different beliefs, but the one belief that we have in common is to treat others the way you want to be treated.”

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