Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III Bridges Faiths in Chicago’s ‘Black Jerusalem’ Event

Trinity United Church of Christ remains a staple in the African-American community.

The multigenerational church that leads with Christ, culture and community at the forefront continues to push forward with groundbreaking conversations, innovative programming and transformational leadership.

On Thursday, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, senior pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ, curated an event entitled “Black Jerusalem: History, Healing, and Sacred Song,” held at the 95th Street worship center on the Southside.

Pastor Moss designed this unique gathering to share critical moments on his powerful pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Palestine with a beautiful community of Muslim, Jewish and Christian activists, scholars and thought leaders, including Dr. Rami Nashashibi, Rabbi Isaac Luria, Alia Bilal and more.

During this pilgrimage, Pastor Moss toured the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including Bethlehem, Jericho, and Old Jerusalem, along with the Black Hebrew community of Dimona.

This gathering educated the community on the region and called for healing, peace and coalition building. It concluded with African, Muslim, Christian and Jewish jazz musicians leading the community in songs and compositions rooted in the Black musical tradition of freedom and dignity.

As the event began, scholars and theologians of all backgrounds sat in anticipation of the experience that was set to take place. It opened with a sensational selection by singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and recording artist Zeshan B. As the beautifully inclusive night continued, Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann led prayer in Hebrew, Alia Bilal led prayer in Arabic, and Rev. Dr. Stacey L. Edwards-Dunn concluded with prayer in English.

Next, Moss welcomed dialogue between Bilal, founder and deputy executive director of IMAN, Inc., and Isaac Luria of The Nathan Cummings Foundation.

“Tonight, you will learn that we have a lot in common. Let’s go on a journey to hear those stories together. In these stories, you will listen to joy, pain and suffering, but primarily salvation and redemption. We are all family on so many different levels,” Pastor Moss said.

After the conversation, Moss encouraged attendees to introduce themselves to a “cousin” they had never met in the audience, sharing their name and the one thing they wanted them to know. The event concluded with a “Gospel and Gumbo” jam session where musicians took audience members on a brief aural journey, created and shaped by people of African descent and used worldwide to speak to pain, the blues and ultimately healing.

The Trinity UCC band started the session with a heartwarming version of Stevie Wonder’s “As.” Music and visual artist Drea d’Nur picked it up and drew in audience members with her fantastic rendition of the hymn “I Need Thee.”

In all, the evening ended with a feeling of deep appreciation, love and prayers for all communities affected.

We encourage all readers to continue educating and informing themselves on the devastating occurrences happening in the world.

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