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Interfaith Event Fosters Love and Understanding

A spirit of love, peace, and understanding filled the air as more than 100 individuals from diverse faiths, cultures, and ethnicities gathered for a dinner hosted by the Southern Dallas Interfaith Council and the Bahá’ís of Duncanville.

This recent event marked the fourth in a series of international gatherings held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Duncanville, Texas.

This series aims to uplift, inspire, and educate the community about various cultures and peoples around the world, promoting better understanding. “We hope to create friendships that will contribute to a climate of respect, affirmation, and hope,” said Anne Perry, a Bahá’í member of the Council and an emcee for the event.

Members of the Southern Dallas Interfaith Council, from left to right, are Tricia Harris (Unity Church of Dallas), Bishop Emmanuel Ekong (The Brotherhood of the Cross and Star), and Mark Romney (Church of Jesus Christ), with guest Viki Ralston (Church of Jesus Christ).

Bishop Emmanuel Ekong, representing the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, added, “The members of the Southern Dallas Interfaith Council aspire to unite hearts and hands, coming together to learn from one another while worshiping God in our respective congregations. We seek a deeper understanding of our diverse beliefs and aim to be instruments in God’s hands as we strengthen the Southern Dallas faith communities and reach out to those who profess no faith.”

The latest event featured presentations on four African nations – Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Alex Appiah, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ from Ghana, shared that Ghana was historically known as “The Gold Coast” due to its rich natural resources like gold, petroleum, and diamonds. Ghana’s demographics are also noteworthy, with about 75 percent of its 33-million population being under the age of 25, according to Appiah.

David Asare, of Ghana, talks about his homeland as emcees Anne Perry and Bishop Emmanuel Ekong look on.

David Asare, also born in Ghana, shared fond memories of his homeland, adding that he recently traveled there to visit his parents. He said Ghana is very family oriented: “We believe in the system of community raising a child. So growing up, your mother’s your mom, but she’s not your only mom. You have eyes on you everywhere you go. Teachers are also moms and dads. That helped a lot in the raising of children,” he said with a smile.


Barachel Arrey spoke about Cameroon, his native land and favorite country in Africa.

Barachel Arrey, also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expressed his love for his homeland, Cameroon. He explained that it is a bilingual country with French and English as the official languages, but many other dialects are spoken as well. Like Ghana, Cameroon is also blessed with abundant natural resources. In a lighthearted manner, Arrey recommended, “When you visit Africa, start with Cameroon, then explore Ghana and other countries.”


Joe Dike, Archbishop of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, shared insights into his native county, Nigeria.

Referencing the previous presentations about Ghana and Cameroon, he said we are all one family – “but Nigeria is exceptional,” he remarked – drawing laughter from the audience. “It is the country with the highest concentration of Africans on earth, with a population of 200 million and counting,” he said.

The country has 400 distinct languages and close to 4,000 dialects, although English is the official language. He said Nigeria is “richly blessed in so many respects” including minerals, hydrocarbons, and precious stones.

Nigeria is culturally accommodating, Dike continued. “The idea is that we are all better together. Beneath the color of our skin…we are one family under one God. No matter what we call our theology or doctrine or religious philosophy… deep down beneath the skin, we are one. We are different colors, different nationalities, different languages, but one people,” he emphasized.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Bahá’í member Tim Perry shared a video presentation about the DRC, including the newly dedicated Baha’i House of Worship in the country.

The event also featured a potluck dinner with delicious, authentic African cuisine prepared by individuals of African ancestry, representing additional countries such as Kenya, Zaire, Mali, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

Anne Perry and Bishop Emmanuel Ekong look on as Elaine offers a prayer in French, one of the primary languages spoken in her native country in Africa. Nilgun Sezgin and Anne Perry (in blue-green dress) led two African dances. Bill Jones (in yellow shirt at left) led a “Friendship Dance”

As part of the evening’s program, two African dances were taught to the attendees.

The closing remarks were delivered by Mark Romney, president of the Dallas Texas Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who said, “In our faith, we believe we are all children of heavenly parents – brothers and sisters. I am grateful for the love that you have for one another.”

The next international dinner, scheduled for November, will focus on the Scandinavian countries.

Photos by Jim Brunson.