Oakland Christmas Eve interfaith service calls for a ceasefire in Gaza

As the Israel-Hamas war rages on through the Christmas season, community members in the Bay Area gathered together to demand an end to the violence. 

An interfaith service featured prayers and chants outside of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church and First Congregational Church of Oakland on Christmas Eve, all calling for peace. 

"My church, my community had to stand up and do something," Rev. Allison Tanner of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church told KTVU. 

Tanner was proud to see many members of her congregation at the event. 

"Christmas we talk about incarnation. Our job is to incarnate God's justice and God's love in the world. And so we do that following the lead of Palestinian Christians…and for all people who are oppressed," she said. 

Christians gathered alongside Muslims, Buddhists, and Jewish people to call for an end to the violence. Leaders of various faiths spoke to the groups, leading them in prayer, chants, and song.

"All of the bombs being dropped are US-made bombs, so we are directly responsible as US citizens, and dropping bombs on innocent people is hopefully a religious issue for all of us," said Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb with the Rabbinic Council of Jewish Voice for Peace. 

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Those who came out to support the gathering ranged from young children to elderly folks. It was an emotional experience for many. 

"I am a mother first of all, you know, first and foremost and that's mainly why I stand here, you know," said Michelle Mascarenhas as tears fell down her face. 

Mascarenhas and her daughter Anjuna attended the service together, and they shared how much this war has weighed on them. 

"For my generation, it's interesting because this is the first time where we're able to see it so graphically and viscerally like on social media on our phones. Our phones are often the tools we use to ignore the issues, and now we're being directly confronted with them," said Anjuna Mascarenhas-Swan. 

At the altar, wood, and rubble, community members offered prayers and hopes for the future.

"Please do so and participate in the work of proclaiming loudly that love demands a permanent ceasefire now," Tanner said. 

The group said they had one Christmas wish: an end to the violence in Gaza and Israel.