On February 28, the New York Public Library hosted the 2023 Interfaith Breakfast, a traditional interfaith event organized by City Hall. At the invitation of the office of Mayor Eric Adams, three hundred religious leaders and prominent figures from across the city attended this event.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America was represented by Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzus. A delegation from the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate of America consisted of Archpriest Alexander Belya, Rector of St. John the Forerunner Cathedral in Brooklyn and Public Relations Director Ivan Belya.
The tradition of holding interfaith breakfasts originated in America in the first half of the last century. Since that time, such events have been regularly held on both local and national levels around the nation. In New York City, the first one was held in 2002. Since that time, NYC government officials and the representatives of many faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, have gathered together annually on the premises of the New York Public Library to discuss the main problems facing the city as well as ideas for promoting unity, mutual understanding and common support between religious groups. The New York City Council of Churches estimates there are at least 4,000 churches in the Greater New York area (Data from 2015).
The 2023 Interfaith Breakfast began with the song “Let freedom ring” performed by the New York Choir, followed by speeches and prayers by the leaders of different denominations and faiths. Addressing the participants, Mayor Eric Adams spoke about how NYC’s religious communities can help with some of the City’s problems, including homelessness and mental health. He expressed his support for the necessity of establishing prayers in schools, noting that many social troubles can be attributed to a lack of faith due to the ban on compulsory prayer in public schools. Pastor Gilford Monrose, Faith Advisor & Executive Director Mayor’s Office of Faith-based & Community Partnerships, also spoke on behalf of the Mayor’s new initiative.