Press Release

An Interfaith Gathering at the Table, hosted by the Rothko Chapel

November 13, 2017

An Interfaith Gathering at the Table, hosted by the Rothko Chapel 

33rd annual interfaith Thanksgiving service, Thursday, Nov. 16

HOUSTON – Nov. 13, 2017 – The Rothko Chapel is preparing for its 33rd annual Interfaith Thanksgiving service – a gathering of leaders and members of nine different faiths from around the city, who will join in the spirit of gratitude. 

The event, free and open to the public, is slated for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16. The Rothko Chapel is located at 3900 Yupon St. Registration is required to attend. A reception will follow the program.

The theme for this year’s event is “Helping Each Other.”

Executive director David Leslie said Houston needs this type of ceremony – in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. 

“Individuals across the city have come together this year – to help and support each other in the face of this natural disaster,” he said. “This is a time to celebrate all the ways we have joined together as a community – and this ceremony is also a reminder of the importance of continuing to do so.”

Leslie explained that the annual Thanksgiving ceremony also provides a time and space to meet religious practitioners of all faiths.

“Houston is rich with many beautiful traditions of prayer,” he said. 

Participants include:

  • Yalena Mebane and Bryan Blakery, Houston Baha’i Center
  • Venerable Katapunno and Charlene Chuang, Texas Buddhist Association 
  • Dr. Kavita Vachaknavee and Dr. Harish Chandra, Arya Samaj Greater Houston 
  • JVB Preksha Meditation Center Houston 
  • Rabbi Gideon Estes and Ms. Augusta Levine, Congregation Or Ami
  • Islamic Society of Greater Houston
  • The Sikh National Center of Greater Houston
  • Ervad Yazad Sidhwa and Vehishta Kaikobad, Zoroastrian Association of Houston
  • Rev. Junfeng Tan and Dr. Zhen Zhou, Faith Lutheran Church 

Members of the Houston Interfaith Thanksgiving Service Committee include: 

  • George Atkinson, United Methodist
  • Ajit Giani, Baha'i
  • Beth Kulkarni, Hindu
  • Phyllis Harris, Jewish
  • Swatantra Jain, Jain
  • Vehishta Kaikobad, Zoroastrian
  • Judy Jeng. Buddhist
  • Garland Pohl, Catholic

The Thanksgiving service started 33 years ago in response to the bombing of a storefront mosque. After helping to raise money to support the mosque's repairs, co-founders George Atkinson and Garland Pohl wanted to create a way for different faith organizations to come together, as thanksgiving is a common value shared by all the major world religions. 

Initially, participants represented Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Within three years, Buddhists, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Baha’i, Hindus and Jains joined the service. 

The creation of the event is a milestone in the development of interfaith dialogue in Houston. 

For more information about the Rothko Chapel and the full calendar of upcoming programs, workshops and events, visit or call 713-524-9839.

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