Religious leaders come together in Flushing to celebrate faith and freedom, in the nation's birthplace of religious tolerance. NY1's Clodagh McGowan filed the following report.
The Old Quaker Meetinghouse on Northern Boulevard dates back to 1694 and is considered by many the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States.
The Dutch prohibited the Quaker practice, which led to the Flushing Remonstrance, a document written and signed by 30 residents, asserting religious rights.
"What Flushing is known for historically, is the diversity of the religions here," said Gina Minielli, photographer for "The Beacon of Pluralism."
More than 300 years later, Gina Minielli and Nancy Bruno are taking a closer look at the diverse religious institutions in Flushing. It’s part of their project, "The Beacon of Pluralism," as part of a graduate program at Queens College, they photographed churches, temples and mosques.
"We want to celebrate that because with all the conflicts going on, Flushing always is so diverse and welcoming of each other," said Bruno.
On Monday night, religious leaders came together to share that sentiment and spread hope, during a time when many say they are on edge, in light of President Trump's travel ban for a number of Muslim majority countries.
"Sharing light with each other in a time when one can say it is a little dark is very special as well," said Alan Brava, the executive director of the Free Synagogue of Flushing.
And spread light they did. Bruno crafted traditional Dutch candle holders, to send to each house of worship as a symbol of unity and peace.
"There's a kind of renewal that can happen for people spiritually or through community that can really sustain us in these times," said Chloe Bass, a visiting professor with the Social Practice Program at Queens College.
Event participants say Flushing's history as a tolerant and inclusive community can serve as a model during a time when the country feels divided
"To see people coming together full of hope, full of light and spirit, to me that really inspires me to do more, to help other people, to reach out. To really think about what it means to be an American," said John Choe, a member of the Flushing Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.