INTERFAITH COUNCIL OF CENTRAL FLORIDA NEWSLETTER–8 (April 2013)
1. Hindus to Host “Festival of India.” On Saturday, March 30, from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, the Hindu Society of Central Florida (1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL; http://www.hindutempleorlando.org) will host its annual Festival of India. Admission is free, although a fee of $5 per car will charged for parking. Celebrate India’s culture, arts and cuisine. The event will feature music, Indian classical and folk dances, games and shopping. Stalls will include jewelry, clothes, saris, henna tattoos, handicrafts, and lots of good food from different regions of India. For more detail, contact the Hindu temple office at 407-699-5277.
2. Easter Seating Limited, Arrive Early. March 31 is Easter Sunday (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter), a high day of spiritual celebration for Christians. Services in churches both large and small will feature special decoration, pageantry, high-quality music and a generally exuberant spirit. For those not of the Christian faith who’d like to visit a church, Easter can be an interesting time to do so. Just be sure to get there early–because you’ll be competing for a seat not only with regular attenders but with a large crowd of “CEOs” (Christmas-Easter Only!). No doubt most faiths experience a similar spike in attendance on high holy days. But do others have such an impressive acronym to identify their infrequent attenders?!
3. Remembering the Holocaust, April 7. The Holocaust Center is sponsoring its annual Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day, http://history1900s.about.com/cs/holocaust/a/yomhashoah.htm) on Sunday, April 7, at 4:00 pm at the Jewish Community Center (851 Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751 ). The public is invited to this admission-free event. Yom HaShoah commemorates the lives of the six million Jews and others who died during the Holocaust, also honoring the Survivors, Liberators and Rescuers, seeking to keep their memories alive. The event’s featured speaker, Louise Borden, has written a book about Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat credited with saving up to 100,000 Jewish lives–all the while risking his reputation, his safety and, ultimately, his own life in order to rescue strangers. For further detail, phone: 407-628-0555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. “Friends Talking Faith.” The Reverend Bryan Fulwider, Rabbi Steve Engel and Imam Muhammad Musri will discuss the importance and role of humor in religion. Tune into their monthly radio program on WMFE 90.7 FM, on Sunday, April 7, at 6:00 pm. Learn more about the program and listen to archived broadcasts at http://thethreewiseguys.com.
5. “Religion 101” Series to Feature Unitarian Universalism. On Tuesday, April 9, at 7:00 pm at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751), the Reverend Kathy Schmitz (http://www.orlandouu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=203&Itemid=206) will present an overview of Unitarian Universalism. For more detail, go to the Holocaust Center’s website http://www.holocaustedu.org/events/community_presentations/. On May 7, all eight of the series presenters will serve on a panel answering you questions about religion in general or a faith tradition in particular.
6. Have Opinions–Will Share Them. That would be an apt name for the Interfaith Discussion Group that meets from 7:00 to 8:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at Adventist University of Health Sciences (http://www.adu.edu) on Florida Hospital’s main campus. Our topic for April 10 is: How much should those of faith use governmental legislation to make others do what those of faith think is right? Does your faith tradition address this matter directly, indirectly or nor at all? For details of the meeting and directions, contact email@example.com.
7. Sikhs to Celebrate Baisakhi April 12-14. Baisakhi is a harvest festival that has from ancient times been celebrated like a New Year’s Day in Northwestern India, particularly in the state of Punjab. The celebration symbolizes prosperity and freedom from hunger. However, when Sikhs celebrate Baisakhi in their gurdwaras (temples), it has the added symbolism of liberty–freedom from the oppressive bondage of the old social order under the caste system, which was prevalent in India for more than two thousand years. It was on Baisakhi in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, created Khalsa (see http://www.sikhs.org/khalsa.htm). So Sikhs observe Baisakhi as the birthday of Khalsa. It was on that day that Sikhs were asked to wear the 5K’s (see http://www.amritsar.com/The%20Five%20K.shtml), which includes unshorn natural hair and the turban. On both Friday and Saturday nights, April 12 and 13, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm there will be a spiritual service including a community dinner at the Sikh Society of Central Florida at 2527 West State Road 426 (Aloma Avenue) in Oviedo (http://www.orlandogurdwara.com). On Sunday, April 14, the service will run from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm, followed by a community lunch. Visitors are welcome. They may join any of the celebrations for whatever length of time is convenient for them. For more detail about Baisakhi, go to http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Baisakhi.
8. Holocaust Center to Host Annual “Dinner of Tribute.” Each spring the “Dinner of Tribute” is the Holocaust Center’s largest fundraiser. This year’s event pays tribute to Helen Greenspun, who’s also the dinner’s featured speaker and a Holocaust survivor who has devoted her life to telling her story so that future generations will know the enormous cost of prejudice and intolerance. (For more details about the speaker, go to http://www.holocaustedu.org/events/dinner_of_tribute1/ .) The event is Wednesday, April 17, at Rosen Plaza, 9700 International Drive, Orlando, FL. Cocktails and auction at 6:00 pm. Dinner at 7:00 pm. For information and reservations, phone 407-628-0555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Faith-Based Partnering with Orange County Public Schools. Every school in the county needs volunteers and community partners–from elementary schools to high schools to alternative and exceptional education centers. Faith-based organizations make ideal partners (functioning in a non-proselytizing capacity) because of the organizational structure they already have in place. The extra attention and care from school volunteers can inspire students to reach for and realize their dreams. Click here for more ideas on participation: http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1104087626041-220/Faith-Based+Ways+to+Partner.pdf. Or if you’re ready to get started, contact Kate Galindo at email@example.com to be matched with a school in need.
10. Food and Nutrition Services of Orange County Public Schools provided 647,372 meals between June 11 and August 3 last summer at 254 school or community sites. To learn about the Food and Nutrition Services of the OCPS, go to https://www.ocps.net/op/food/Pages/default.aspx. To obtain information regarding participation in the summer feeding program, please contact Shelly Travers Smith at 407-317-3700 x5019 or FSsummer@ocps.net.
11. Religious Demographics Have Dramatically Changed. The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/religion-america-decline-low-no-affiliation-report_n_2867626.html?utm_hp_ref=religion) reports that in the 1930s and 1940s some 5 percent of the U.S. population claimed no religious affiliation. That number has now risen to 20 percent–24 percent of men and 16 percent of women. One third of adults under the age of 30 identify with no religion. Moreover, according the article, “the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.” The research looks merely at whether or not people associate themselves with particular faiths; it does not measure how spiritual people may consider themselves to be.
12. “Five Scriptures Christians Should Ponder.” That’s the title of the sermon Jim Coffin, executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, will present at both the 9:00 am and 11:30 am worship services at Markham Woods Church of Seventh-day Adventists (505 Markham Woods Road, Longwood, FL 32779; http://www.markhamwoodschurch.org) on Saturday, April 27. Each service lasts one hour. The public is invited. In his sermon, Pastor Coffin will contend that if more Christians took to heart these five statements from the Christian scriptures, it would significantly improve how Christians relate to those from other faith traditions–and even those of no faith. Direct queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. Persecution of Baha’is and Other Religious Minorities. On March 15, Kenneth E. Bowers, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, testified before the Tom Lantos Human Right Commission of the United States Congress concerning the plight of the Baha’is in Iran (http://tlhrc.house.gov/hearing_notice.asp?id=1246). According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), “more than 500 Baha’is have been arbitrarily arrested since 2005.” Also, since June 2010, “approximately 300 Christians have been arbitrarily arrested and detained.”
14. Two Muslim Invitations: (1) Learn About Islam. On the fourth Saturday night of each month, the Islamic Society of Central Florida hosts an open house that includes a presentation about Islam, a question-and-answer period, an international dinner and a tour of the masjid (mosque). To register, go to http://www.eventbrite.com/org/522308746?s=11006075. (2) Building Bridges and Breaking Bread Banquet 2013. The Islamic Society of Central Florida invites the public to a meal before the beginning of Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting), which focuses on community, compassion and peace. This event, on Saturday, June 29, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, includes a brief presentation about the significance of Ramadan and a delicious cultural dinner for all guests. To register, go to http://www.eventbrite.com/org/522308746?s=11006075.
15. Buddhist Reflection: “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”
INTERFAITH COUNCIL OF CENTRAL FLORIDA NEWSLETTER–7 (March 2013)
1. Christian Ballet Group to Perform “Hiding Place.” The Mississippi-based group Ballet Magnificat will perform “Hiding Place” at Center Pointe Community Church on Friday night, March 1, at 7:00 pm. The ballet is based on the story of the family of Corrie and Betsie ten Boom, Dutch Christians who risked their lives to protect their Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust. The actions of the ten Booms resulted in prison, concentration camp and/or death for several family members. Order tickets at https://orlandocenterpointe.ccbchurch.com/w_form_response.php?form_id=11. For more details, check out the following: View Download.
2. Hindu University to Conduct Workshop on Ganesha. Hinduism’s deities each represent and address specific aspects of life’s bigger picture. Ganesha, for example, “has leadership qualities and, with His grace, it is believed that no undertaking can fail due to subjective or objective obstacles” (see also http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/ganesha.html). Learn more when, on March 8 and 9, Hindu University of America (113 North Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, FL 32825) will host a Ganesha workshop. For more details, check out the following: View Download.
3. A Desk Reference to Personalizing Patient Care. If you aren’t in the health-care business, the foregoing book might seem a waste of time and money. But not so fast. The book is about people more than about medicine. In all professional services, providers need to understand and honor the perspectives of the client. The book gives insights into client need, based on: faith traditions (20 of them described); cultural groupings (another 20); disabilities (7); and distinct generations (4). Anyone working in multi-culture, multi-faith, multi-generation contexts, where disabilities may well also exist, could definitely benefit from the information provided. The book ranges in price from $50 to $20, depending on the quantities ordered. For more information, contact Lillian Boyd (Lillian.Boyd@FLHosp.org).
4. First United Methodist Church Orlando. “Does the Golden Rule Always Apply?” is the title of a discussion starter to be presented by James Coffin, executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, at FUMCO’s Nu Class discussion group (http://nuclass.org) on Sunday morning, March 17, 9:30 to 10:45 am (142 East Jackson Street, Orlando, FL 32801). The public is invited. For further information, contact Kent Horsley (email@example.com).
5. March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food. An array of individuals, congregations and other groups are organizing to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) on their upcoming March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food. The two-week march begins in Fort Myers on March 3. Organizers are particularly hoping to have a large crowd when the march ends in Lakeland with a rally at the headquarters of Publix on March 17. For background information and participation details, go to: tinyurl.com/UUSwithCIW-2013.
6. Not Familiar With the Term “Earth Jurisprudence”? No? Then that can easily be remedied. Equinox Documentaries has recently created a film that tells the story of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Orlando’s Barry University School of Law. The film describes the Center’s mission to legally recognize nature’s and humanity’s rights to exist, flourish and evolve in healthy habitats. To view the 10-minute film, go to the Center’s website (http://earthjuris.org/film) or go directly to YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haIZTRtvIPw.
7. “Misconceptions About My Faith.” That’s the title of an hour-long, multi-participant program at Winter Park Care & Rehabilitation Center (2970 Scarlet Road, Winter Park, FL 32792), at 2:00 pm on Thursday, March 21. Representatives of a variety of faiths–Buddhism, Baha’i, mainline Protestantism, Judaism, Sikhism, Islam and more–will address the two or three most common misunderstandings about their respective faith traditions. The program is free of charge and the public is invited. For further information contact Chaplain Larry Limbaugh (firstname.lastname@example.org; 407-671-8030).
8. What Is Second Harvest Food Bank, Anyway? Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, and personal experience is worth even more, the best way to answer that question is for you to have a Food for Thought experience. Click here to make your reservation: http://www.foodbankcentralflorida.org/site/PageServer?pagename=LearnAboutHunger_FoodforThought. You may be staggered by the magnitude of Central Florida’s hunger problem–and highly impressed by what’s being done. You might even choose to become a volunteer. At the very least, check it out.
9. What Role Have the Media Played in Attitudes Toward Islam? “Americans’ opinions of Islam were at their most favorable immediately after 9/11, when the sense of threat was highest, and grew less favorable even as the fear receded.” The preceding is the first sentence of the abstract for an informative 15-page academic article (with surprising conclusions) written by Christopher Smith of Claremont Graduate University. Peruse the entire article at http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2013/2013-3.pdf .
10. A Visit to the Sikh Society of Central Florida. Should you happen to be driving down West State Road 426 (Aloma Avenue) in Oviedo and find yourself wondering about the beautiful structure with the Indian architecture situated at 2527, the mystery is about to be solved: It’s the gurdwara (temple) of the Sikh Society of Central Florida. To learn more, go to their website: http://www.orlandogurdwara.com. Better still, stop by for a visit. Here’s what you can expect. Each Sunday’s service runs from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm or a bit later. Two gestures of respect are expected of all who enter the sanctuary: removing the shoes and covering the head. Head coverings are provided for visitors. Seating is on the floor. But if sitting on the floor is a problem, there are benches at the back. Since the services are in Punjabi, you’ll catch the spirit of the experience but will not understand all that’s said and done. Thus, you might prefer to arrive somewhat late–at, say, 12:15 pm. Typically, others will still be entering as well. Don’t hesitate to ask what you should or shouldn’t do. You’ll note that at the front is what appears to be a “shrine”–canopy style. It’s actually the place where Guru Granth Sahib–the Sikhs’ compilation of holy scriptures”–is displayed. The Sikh scriptures, much like the Hebrew psalms, were designed to be sung. Thus the worship service is primarily the singing of scriptures. The English translation of the hymns being sung is displayed line by line on the two screens at the front. Sikhism has always advocated equality, inclusiveness and hospitality. So toward the end of the service, a ritual “Grace” will be served in a small quantity to everyone. It is a pudding made of whole wheat flour, sugar, and butter. It symbolizes the sweet grace of the guru and is distributed to all without distinction, emphasizing equality. It may be received on a paper napkin, although most will receive it on their bare hands. (If sugar or butter is a concern, it’s OK to request a smaller quantity in the spirit of sharing. After the service, a full hospitality meal–langar, it’s called–will be served (free) to all present in the gurdwara’s community room downstairs. It is a North Indian-style full vegetarian lunch. Feel free to ask for more if you particularly like something. It will be an honor to your hosts. Much, much more could be said. But it’s all theory until you’ve actually experienced it. And once you have experienced it, you’ll have plenty of questions that your Sikh hosts will be more than happy to answer.
11. Reminders from Previous Newsletters . . .
♦ “Friends Talking Faith.” The Reverend Bryan Fulwider, Rabbi Steve Engel and Imam Muhammad Musri will discuss the topic of gun violence in their monthly program on WMFE 90.7, on Sunday, March 3, at 6:00 pm. Learn more about the program and listen to archived broadcasts at http://thethreewiseguys.com.
♦ “Religion 101” series to feature Baha’i. On Tuesday, March 12, at 7:00 pm at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751), George and Farideh Via will present an overview of the Baha’i faith–one of the youngest of the world’s major religions. For more detail, go to the Holocaust Center’s website http://www.holocaustedu.org/events/community_presentations/. Unitarian Universalism will be featured on April 9.
♦ How does your faith tradition inform your position on the issue of gun control? That’s the topic for the March 13 Interfaith Discussion Group, which will meet at Adventist University of Health Sciences on Florida Hospital’s main campus at 7:00 pm. For further details and directions contact email@example.com.
♦ Passover Festival from A to Z. On March 17, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, Congregation of Reform Judaism (http://www.crjorlando.org/) is inviting the public to learn more about the history and traditions of Passover–their annual festival that celebrates the very core of Jewish identity. This get-to-know-Judaism event will be a time of fun and education for all ages. For more detail, check out the following: View Download
INTERFAITH COUNCIL OF CENTRAL FLORIDA NEWSLETTER–6 (February 2013)
1. News Report: MLK Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith Service. An excellent report of this year’s event–which was held on Sunday evening, January 13–can be read at http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-01-13/news/os-mlk-candlelight-march-remembrance-20130113_1_interfaith-council-rabbi-david-kay-orlando-mother. The event, sponsored annually by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and the City of Orlando Mayor’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Commission, draws a diverse crowd of several hundred people. Also, see tribute to MLK at http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-01-13/news/os-ed-martin-luther-king-myword-011313-20130111_1_mlk-holiday-civil-rights-black-males.
2. “Does the Golden Rule Always Apply?” That’s the title of a presentation by James Coffin, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, at 11:30 am, on Saturday, February 2, at Sabbath Grace Fellowship (http://www.sabbathgracefellowship.com), 207 Semoran Commerce Place, Apopka, FL 32703. The public is invited. So, does the Golden Rule always apply? Absolutely, Coffin says. And it applies not just when Christians are dealing with Christians. It applies in all human relations, whether individual or collective. It’s a core value of interfaith interaction. And it applies to those of no faith as well as to those of faith.
3. Black History Month, James Cleveland and Gospel Music. If you’re a church minister of music, musician, choir director, song leader, dancer–or just love gospel music–then a series of workshops being held in Orlando on February 14, 15 and 16 may be what you’re looking for. Or you may prefer just to attend the “Cleveland Songs that Kept Me” Concert on February 17. Or maybe you’d simply like to learn more about the impact James Cleveland had on gospel music. Whatever your interest, check out the details at www.candoonlineevents.com.
4. Speak Up Wekiva! Join former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine, Sister Pat Siemen of Barry University School of Law, author and film-maker Bill Belleville and other civic leaders leaders and conservation authorities at Wekiwa Springs State Park so you can Speak Up to protect and restore the Wekiva River and all of Florida’s impaired and imperiled waterways. The event will run from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday, February 16, at the park (800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka, Florida 32712; phone: 407-884-2008). Senator Graham will speak at 11:00 am. This educational event will give Central Floridians a chance to learn and take action through an array of discussions, presentations, music and nature activities that will be of interest to casual onlookers as well as veteran conservationists.
5. Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The Justice for Our Neighbors initiative of the United Methodist Church is urging citizen action to encourage legislators to address the issue of immigration reform. Officials to contact include Marco Rubio (go to http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact for mail, email and phone contact information) and President Barack Obama (http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact). For detailed information about the range of issues associated with immigration, check out http://www.floridaimmigrant.org, http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org, http://nilc.org, http://www.splcenter.org, http://www.migrationpolicy.org. For information about how you or your group might become involved locally, contact Marilyn Beecher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Passover Festival from A to Z. Do you have friends, neighbors or workmates who are Jewish? Is some family member married to a Jew? Are you dating one? Have you ever noticed how, when speaking to each other, Jews use a lot of unfamiliar words that leave you clueless as to what they’re talking about? You have noticed? Well, so have the members of Congregation of Reform Judaism (http://www.crjorlando.org/). And they’ve decided to do something about it! On March 17, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, they’re inviting the public to learn more about the history and traditions of Passover–their annual festival that celebrates the very core of Jewish identity. The March 17 get-to-know-Judaism event will be a time of fun and education for all ages. For more detail, check out the following downloadable flyer. Passover from A to Z Flyeer.docx 15K View Download
7. A Visit to the Hindu Society of Central Florida. Although Hinduism is the oldest of the world’s major religions, the Hindu Society of Central Florida (http://www.hindutempleorlando.org) was founded only 25 years ago. But the HSCF has grown dramatically during that time, as have other Hindu organizations in the region. Situated at 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707, the HSCF campus features a temple, a large activities center/auditorium and the Chinmaya Mission (http://www.chinmayaorlando.org). The temple was constructed by a team of Indian artisans who custom-made every statue, frieze and piece of artistry. In India, a specific deity may be pre-eminent in a given geographic region. At the HSCF temple, the main deities are represented, but none are given pre-eminence. It’s an intentional approach to ensure that all branches of Hinduism will feel equally welcome. Non-Hindu visitors are also welcome. It’s a good idea to do a little background reading at the website and perhaps call ahead (407-699-5277) before your visit. Be sure to take off your shoes before entering the temple. And while you’re on the campus, you might want to buy a simple, tasty, inexpensive meal at the cafeteria/canteen, featuring food (for the most part) from South India. It’s not fancy dining, but it’s definitely good value. You can eat in or take away. Your visit to the HSCF can provide not only religious education, but also the experiencing of another culture and an introduction to new culinary delights.
8. Save the Date. The Multi-Faith Workshop sponsored last November by the Hindu Society of Central Florida in conjunction with the Sikh Society of Central Florida was so appreciated that, by popular demand, there’s going be an event redux, addressing a different aspect of interfaith interest this time. Please mark this event on your calendars right now: Sunday afternoon, November 3, 2013. Specific details will be provided as we get closer to the date.
9. Islamic Society of Central Florida Invitationals. Not sure what Muslims believe? The Islamic Society of Central Florida is offering an attractive way for you to find out. First, on the fourth Saturday evening of each month, the ISCF Center for Peace (1021 N. Goldenrod Rd., Orlando, FL 32807) hosts an open house that includes a multimedia presentation/lecture/discussion about the teachings and practices of Islam. Visitors are free to ask questions. The presentation is followed by a cultural meal and an opportunity to tour the masjid (mosque). Second, on June 29, 2013, the ISCF is hosting a “Building Bridges and Breaking Bread Banquet” for which the public is invited to share in the spirit of the beginning of Ramadan (the Muslim fasting month), which focuses on community, compassion and peace. The event includes a brief presentation about the significance of Ramadan and a delicious cultural dinner for all guests. For more detail, go to http://www.eventbrite.com/org/522308746?s=11006075. For general information about the ISCF, go to http://www.iscf.org.
10. Reminders from Previous Newsletters . . .
♦ Farm-worker-justice event this Saturday. Join other Central Floridians in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for a “Day of Worship, Enlightenment, Strategizing and Activism,” Saturday, February 2, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, First Unitarian Church of Orlando, 1901 E. Robinson St., Orlando, FL 32803. Registration deadline: Friday, February 1, tinyurl.com/cf-farmworkerevent. Information: CIWeventinfo@orlandouu.org.
♦ “Friends Talking Faith.” The Reverend Bryan Fulwider, Rabbi Steve Engel and Imam Muhammad Musri will interview Rabbi Harold Kushner, renowned theologian and writer of the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, on WMFE 90.7, this Sunday, February 3, at 6:00 pm. Learn more about the program and listen to archived broadcasts at http://thethreewiseguys.com.
♦ “Religion 101” series to feature Hinduism. On Tuesday, February 12, at 7:00 pm at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751), Dr. Deen Khandelwal will present an overview of Hinduism–the oldest of the world’s major religions. For more detail, go to the Holocaust Center’s http://www.holocaustedu.org/events/community_presentations/. The Baha’i faith will be featured on March 12.
♦ What does your faith tradition teach about our moral obligation to those in poverty? And what tangible actions does it call for? That’s the topic for the February 13 Interfaith Discussion Group, which will meet at Adventist University of Health Sciences on Florida Hospital’s main campus at 7:00 pm. For further details and directions contact email@example.com.
INTERFAITH COUNCIL OF CENTRAL FLORIDA NEWSLETTER–5 (January 2013)
1. MLK Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith and Multicultural Service. On Sunday evening, January 13, you’re invited to join an array of religious and civic leaders at the Orlando City Hall, where you’ll receive a commemorative T-shirt and glow stick. The “candlelight” vigil and march will leave City Hall at 6:00 pm, led by Mayor Buddy Dyer, and proceed to First United Methodist Church (142 East Jackson Street). There we’ll conduct the city’s annual Interfaith and Multicultural Service, featuring as speaker Dr. Larry G. Mills, pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. The theme for this year’s event is “Unarmed Truth and Unconditional Love.” Sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and the City of Orlando Mayor’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission, the event provides a natural catalyst for dialogue with children and youth about the history of the Civil Rights Movement, the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the advances made and the challenges that still remain.
2. “Everybody’s Child” Chorus at MLK Event. The U.S. Marines need “a few good men.” Those planning the MLK Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith and Multicultural Service are looking for as many kids as they can find to sing in a “no audition,” “one practice” chorus for the event. Rabbi David Kay, the prime organizer of the MLK service, outlines what he’s looking for in the two downloads below. If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors, nodding acquaintances . . . why not help them have the fun of participating in this opportunity to sing? The one rehearsal is Monday evening, January 7, at 7:00 pm at Congregation Ohev Shalom.
3. Help Spread the Word About the MLK Event. For more detail about all MLK events between January 11 and 26, go to http://www.cityoforlando.net/executive/communications/events/mlk/index.htm. Below you can download a poster for the Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith and Multicultural Service on Sunday night, January 13. Please help us by printing it off and posting it on as many noticeboards as possible.
4. Multi-Religion Calendar. If you want to see the “soul” of any faith tradition, look at their holy days/holidays–the point where the social and spiritual sides of the religion intersect most dramatically. The Huffington Post has provided an illustrated guide to the special days of many of the world’s leading religions. Want to learn about what’s spiritually special to others? Check out the 98 pictures and brief descriptions of these celebrations. Go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/01/religious-holidays-2013_n_2372650.html?utm_hp_ref=religion#slide=1925001.
5. What is the Truth About American Muslims: Questions and Answers. The Interfaith Alliance and the Religious Freedom Education Project have partnered to provide a list of the most-asked questions about American Muslims. “Our goal is to provide the public with accurate answers to understandable questions,” the preamble to the document reads. Candor, accuracy and balance are the goals. The compilers of the questions acknowledge the existence of radicalized Muslims (whose existence most of the world is already aware of), but they seek to ensure that the multitude of moderate Muslims, especially those in America, don’t get pushed from sight because a radical minority have stolen the spotlight. Twenty-three denominations and other religious entities from a range of faith traditions have endorsed the document. Check it out at http://www.interfaithalliance.org/americanmuslimfaq.
6. Visit to Guang Ming Temple. For those who’ve wondered just what might be inside the beautiful Buddhist temple at 6555 Hoffner Avenue, Orlando, FL 32822 (near the airport), let me suggest that it’s well worth a visit. The temple features not only exquisite architecture and artistry, it’s also a multi-purpose building that typically houses a hive of activity every day except Monday. Sunday’s chanting services start at 10:30 am. An English version of the chanting is available on electronic devices and is printed in the chanting books. Concurrent with the service are a number of classes–conducted in English–that highlight various aspects of Buddhist philosophy. The temple has a bookstore, library (most of the volumes are in Chinese) and reading room. Following the services each week, everyone is invited to a simple, tasty, healthful vegetarian meal. Check out the website at http://www.orlandobuddhism.org. Every year more five hundred people casually drop by Guang Ming Temple to learn more about Buddhism or simply to admire the building itself.
7. Persecution and Discrimination Against Atheists. In an article titled ”Atheists around world suffer persecution, discrimination: report,”Reuters news service describes how one’s belief in God isn’t the only thing that can get you persecuted. Absence of belief can also create problems for you–even leading to execution (though the death penalty for atheism isn’t known to have been invoked recently). According to the article, “In at least seven U.S. states, constitutional provisions are in place that bar atheists from public office and one state, Arkansas, has a law that bars an atheist from testifying as a witness at a trial.” Read it all at http://news.yahoo.com/atheists-around-world-suffer-persecution-discrimination-report-000945958.html
8. Working Together for Farm Worker Justice. Join other Central Floridians in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for a “Day of Worship, Enlightenment, Strategizing and Activism” on Saturday, February 2, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, First Unitarian Church of Orlando, 1901 E. Robinson St., Orlando, FL 32803. After a decade of education and outreach, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers–an internationally acclaimed organization of Florida farm workers–has reached groundbreaking agreements with 10 multi-billion-dollar retailers and 90 percent of Florida’s tomato growers. The result: the historic Fair Food Program, ushering in a new day for human rights in the fields. The event registration fee of $15 includes lunch and snacks. Registration deadline: January 26. Information: CIWeventinfo@orlandouu.org. Registration: tinyurl.com/cf-farmworkerevent.
9. Reminders from Previous Newsletters . . .
♦ “Friends Talking Faith.” Hear the Reverend Bryan Fulwider, Rabbi Steve Engel and Imam Muhammad Musri, WMFE 90.7, this Sunday, Jaunary 6, at 6:00 pm. Learn more about the program and listen to archived broadcasts at http://thethreewiseguys.com.
♦ What role does food play in your faith tradition? That’s the topic for the January 9 Interfaith Discussion Group at Adventist University of Health Sciences on Florida Hospital’s main campus at 7:00 pm. For further details and directions contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
♦ “Religion 101” series to feature Sikhism. On Tuesday, January 15, at 7:00 pm at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751), Jasbir Singh Bhatia, past president of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, will present an overview of Sikhism. For more detail, go to the Holocaust Center’s website.
♦ Interfaith prayer service at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 526 Park Avenue North in Winter Park, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm, on Thursday, January 17. The public is invited. For details and to RSVP, contact Alejandro Luciano: 407-246-4819; email@example.com.
♦ Rabbi Harold Kushner–scholar, theologian and author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People–will speak to the general public at the Congregation of Reform Judaism on Wednesday, January 23, at 7:30 pm. For more detail and to register for the event, go to kushnerinorlando.com.
♦ Prayer service for Christian unity. From 10:30 to 11:30 am on Friday, January 25, at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke, 130 Magnolia Avenue. For further details and to RSVP, contact Alejandro Luciano: 407-246-4819; firstname.lastname@example.org
♦ Christians–and possibly others–may wish to register for GladdeningLight’s third annual symposium, titled “Love, Now,” which will be held at the Winter Park Civic Center, February 1-3, 2013. Episcopal priest Matthew Fox is the featured speaker.
INTERFAITH COUNCIL OF CENTRAL FLORIDA NEWSLETTER–4 (December 2012)
1. OCPS Seeking Assistance from Faith Community. On December 4, Orange County Public Schools officially launched an Adopt-a-School program for faith-based organizations. Because faith-based entities have an existing infrastructure, they’re ideal for organizing student mentoring programs, life-skills education, after-school and summer recreation, academic assistance and much more. OCPS (the tenth largest school district in the United States), like many school systems throughout the nation, faces challenges because of social fragmentation. But superintendent Barbara M. Jenkins is determined to overcome the obstacles by cultivating “continuous community involvement in neighborhood schools.” While religious proselytizing in public schools is (appropriately) forbidden, faith-based organizations can play a highly positive role in a variety of areas, and their presence is both welcomed and sought. For more detail about how your group can become involved, go to https://www.ocps.net/es/cr/resources/Pages/Faith-based%20_Partners.aspx/.
2. Lettermen Concerts to Raise Funds for Homeless Charities. St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park (526 Park Avenue North) will be the venue for two Lettermen concerts, on December 27 and 28, with the proceeds going to a variety of Central Florida charities that serve the homeless. The Thursday, December 27, concert will feature an array of Christmas music, both sacred and secular. The Friday night, December 28, concert will feature the style of music that has been synonymous with the Lettermen for decades. Both concerts begin at 7:00 pm. For further information and tickets go to http://concert.rgimarketing.com.
3. What Role Does Food Play in Your Faith Tradition? That’s the focus of the January 9 meeting of a long-running Interfaith Discussion Group whose monthly “conversations” are now being held at Adventist University of Health Sciences at Florida Hospital’s main campus. The free-of-charge, open-to-the-public discussions address a different subject each month. For further details and directions contact email@example.com.
4. MLK Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith and Multicultural Service. [Please note that in 2013 this highly appreciated community event is being hosted one week before the MLK holiday, due to conflicts with other downtown activities during the holiday weekend.] On Sunday evening, January 13, you’re invited to join an array of religious and civic leaders at the Orlando City Hall, where you’ll receive a commemorative T-shirt and glow stick. The “candlelight” vigil and march will leave City Hall at 6:00 pm, led by Mayor Buddy Dyer, and proceed to First United Methodist Church (142 East Jackson Street). There we’ll conduct the city’s annual Interfaith and Multicultural Service, featuring as speaker Dr. Larry G. Mills, pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. The theme for this year’s event is “Unarmed Truth and Unconditional Love.” Sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and the City of Orlando Mayor’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission, the event provides a natural catalyst for dialogue with children and youth about the history of the Civil Rights Movement, the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the advances made and the challenges that still remain. Spread the word concerning this truly special celebration and learning opportunity.
5. “Religion 101” Series to Feature Sikhism on January 15. Are you interested in a quick overview of the teachings and practices of Orlando’s various faith traditions? The Holocaust Center and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida are partnering on a “Religion 101″ Series to make it easy and fun for the busy person to become more knowledgeable without a huge investment of time. This nine-segment, once-a-month, free-of-charge, open-to-the-public series features a one-hour presentation and half hour of Q & A. So far we’ve featured Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. On Tuesday, January 15, at 7:00 pm at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751), Jasbir Singh Bhatia, past president of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, will present an overview of Sikhism. For more detail about the series and for other Holocaust Center events, go to their website. Hinduism will be featured on February 12.
6. Catholic Diocese Sponsoring Interfaith Prayer Service. “God of Life: Lead Us to Justice and Peace” is the theme of this year’s Diocese-sponsored Interfaith Prayer Service, to be conducted at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 526 Park Avenue North in Winter Park, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm, on Thursday, January 17. A reception will immediately follow the service. Spiritual leaders from many of Orlando’s array of faith traditions will participate. The public is invited. For details and to RSVP, contact Alejandro Luciano: 407-246-4819; firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. World-Renowned Rabbi to Speak January 23. Scholar, theologian and prolific writer Rabbi Harold Kushner will speak to an interfaith audience at the Congregation of Reform Judaism on Wednesday, January 23, at 7:30 pm. The public is urged to take advantage of this opportunity to hear from a man whose personal experience has caused him to contemplate the problem of pain as few others have, leading to his bestselling book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. For more detail and to register for the January 23 event, go to kushnerinorlando.com.
8. Knowing What to Say to the Sorrowing. In an article titled “Dealing With Grief: Five Things NOT to Say and Five Things to Say In a Trauma Involving Children,” the Reverend Emily C. Heath of the United Church of Christ provides some do’s and don’ts. The article, written in response to the school slayings in Connecticut, provides succinct and practical suggestions that are equally applicable in situations that are far less dramatic. Read it at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-emily-c-heath/dealing-with-grief-five-t_b_2303910.html?utm_hp_ref=religion.
9. Prayer Service for Christian Unity. Christians of all denominations–and the general public–are invited to the annual Prayer Service for Christian Unity sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. The theme of this year’s service is “What Does God Require of Us?” The service will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 am on Friday, January 25, at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke, 130 Magnolia Avenue, in downtown Orlando. A reception will immediately follow the service. For further details and to RSVP, contact Alejandro Luciano: 407-246-4819; email@example.com
10. Save the Date–November 9 and10–Kristallnacht Remembrance. Each year the Holocaust Center in Maitland invites the community to remember Kristallnacht–The Night of Broken Glass–which took place November 9 and 10, 1938 (and which many scholars identify as the beginning of Hitler’s Final Solution). But in 2013, the 75th anniversary of those two days of infamy, the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, the Bach Festival Society, Rollins College, the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation and an array of other Central Florida entities are joining forces with the Holocaust Center to forcefully remind our entire community of the need for eternal vigilance against bigotry and hate. The highlight of the weekend’s activities will be the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra’s performance of the oratorio “A Child of Our Time,” by British composer Michael Tippett (1905–1998). The work, first performed in 1944 in London, was inspired by events surrounding Kristallnacht, yet also addresses the plight of oppressed people in general, as evidenced by Tippett’s use of “negro spirituals” as a vehicle to convey parts of his message. You’ll be hearing about this community highlight in much more detail over the upcoming months. But mark you calendars now to ensure that no scheduling conflicts keep you away from this one-of-a-kind event.
11. “Witness” Presentations–75 of Them! Leading up to the major remembrance event for the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (described in the preceding item), the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and the Holocaust Center are teaming up in an effort to have 2012’s Kristallnacht Remembrance program–“Witness”–presented in 75 houses of worship, schools, civic organizations and other venues. “Witness” is a readers theater involving six readers who use the actual words of victims, perpetrators and onlookers to describe what went on during the tragic events associated with Kristallnacht. The readers’ words are accentuated by a simultaneous Power Point presentation of pictures and news headlines from that era. The Holocaust Center is making copies of the scripts and the Power Point available to groups willing to use their in-house talent to do the performance. Groups willing to present this simple-but-powerful snapshot of a sad chapter of history should contact Jim Coffin: 321-228-4599; firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, we’re seeking 75 venues! So we need you!
12. “Friends Talking Faith.” Have you heard about the Christian, the Jew and the Muslim who walked into a radio station? No? Then let me tell you. The Reverend Bryan Fulwider, Rabbi Steve Engel and Imam Muhammad Musri began a once-a-month, one-hour radio show in April 2012. They call it “Friends Talking Faith.” The show looks at just about every facet of life from their varied faith perspectives. “The Three Wise Guys,” as they’ve lightheartedly dubbed themselves, have the ability to cut through the clutter and get right to the core of the issues they address. Listen to the them on WMFE 90.7 on the first Sunday of each month at 6:00 pm. Learn more about them and listen to archived broadcasts at http://thethreewiseguys.com.
INTERFAITH COUNCIL OF CENTRAL FLORIDA NEWSLETTER–3 “Part B” (November 2012)
1. Interfaith “Harmony House” Dedicated. When a crowd gathered this past Sunday to dedicate a Habitat for Humanity house in Altamonte Springs, it was a first: a joint project involving Christian churches, Jewish synagogues and Muslim mosques. It was called Harmony House. The Miller family were the home’s new occupants. Participants in the dedication were: Imam Muhammad Musri, Islamic Society of Central Florida; Reverend Bryan Fulwider, Building US and Interfaith Council of Central Florida; Ms. Penny Seater, Habitat for Humanity; Reverend Gus Davies, Northland Church; Pastor Ron Torkelson, Markham Woods Seventh-day Adventist Church; Mr. Brent Holladay, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; U.S. Congressman John Mica; Rabbi David Kay, Congregation Ohev Shalom. As the sign that stood on the property during construction announced, this venture involved an array of individuals, businesses and houses of worship–in addition to a lot of coordinating by Habitat.
2. A Hindu First. The first Hindu to be elected to national legislative office, Tulsi Gabbard, 31, won Hawaii’s Second Congressional District on November 6, receiving 81 percent of the vote. Gabbard had earlier made history when at the age of 21 she was elected to the state legislature. According to Wikipedia, “Gabbard’s first name, ‘Tulsi,’ comes from the name of a plant sacred in Hinduism. She is a vegetarian and a Hindu who follows Gaudiya Vaishnavism, and specifically follows Sanatan Dharma and the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya. She especially appreciates the Bhagavad Gita as a spiritual guide.” Gabbard has packed a lot into her 31 years, including two tours of military duty in the Middle East as well as having been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
3. A Buddhist First. On November 6, Mazie Kelko Hirono became the first Buddhist (though she’s non-practicing, she says) to be elected as a U.S. senator, filling the position vacated by Daniel Akaka. According to Wikipedia, Hirono will be “the first female Senator from Hawaii, the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, the first U.S. Senator born in Japan, and the nation’s first Buddhist Senator.” Hirono, whose childhood story and political career make for an interesting read, served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before her run for the Senate. She is one of 20 women who will be in the Senate when it begins its next session, the largest number of women senators ever.
4. Cool Congregations. Congregation Ohev Shalom and Sunshine State Interfaith Power and Light are partnering in a workshop titled “Care for God’s Earth: Faith Perspectives on Why and How.” In this three-hour program intended for clergy and lay leaders of all faith traditions, participants will consider: (a) faith perspectives on caring for God’s earth; (b) the current state of the earth and its interrelated life systems; (c) practical actions that individuals and congregations can take in order to be more faithful Caregivers of Creation. You will leave with new insights and resources to use in your home and/or your congregation to reduce your energy bill, save precious water and reduce the impact on the earth. From 2:00 to 5:00 pm, Sunday, December 2, at Congregation Ohev Shalom, 623 Concourse Parkway South, Maitland, FL 32751. For more information, contact Alex at 407-246-4819 or email@example.com. C
5. Orange County Public Schools Need You. OCPS, like many school systems throughout much of the United States, face challenges because of social fragmentation. But OCPS superintendent Barbara M. Jenkins is determined to overcome the obstacles by cultivating “continuous community involvement in neighborhood schools.” Among the already-organized-for-service groups in the community are faith-based entities. While proselytizing in public schools is (appropriately) forbidden, faith-based organizations provide an excellent infrastructure for organizing student mentoring programs, life-skills education, after-school and summer recreation and academic assistance, and much more. Thus, Dr. Jenkins is inviting the spiritual and organizational leaders of faith-based entities to a “Kickoff Breakfast” on Tuesday, December 4, to hear about the possibilities and to give their feedback. Check-in and seating begin at 7:30 am, with the breakfast and program going from 8:00 to 10:00 am in the Lakeside Room, First Baptist Church of Orlando, 3000 South John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL 32805. The cost is $10. Please register in advance: Go to www.ocps.net, then click on Faith-based Adopt-A-School.
6. “Religion 101″ Series in December. Are you interested in a quick overview of the teachings and practices of the various faith traditions in Central Florida? The Holocaust Center and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida are partnering on a “Religion 101″ Series to make it easy and fun for the busy person to become much more knowledgeable without a huge investment of time. This nine-segment, once-a-month series features a free, open-the-public, one-hour presentation and half hour of Q & A. So far we’ve featured Buddhism, Islam and Judaism. On Tuesday, December 4, at 7:00 pm at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751), the Reverend Bryan Fulwider will present an overview of Christianity. For more detail, go to the Holocaust Center’s website. January’s presentation will be on Sikhism.
7. “Name That Tune” is the title of a fun interactive program that matches bird calls to photographs of the region’s resident and migrant birds. The program will be presented by David Williamson and the Seminole County Audubon Society on Sunday afternoon, December 9, at 2:00 pm at Seminole County Public Library, North Branch, 150 North Palmetto Avenue, Sanford. The event is free and open to the public. For more detail phone 941-302-1808.
INTERFAITH COUNCIL OF CENTRAL FLORIDA NEWSLETTER–3 (November 2012)
1. Multi-Faith Workshop to Focus on Human Values. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Hindu Temple of Orlando, the Hindu Society of Central Florida’s New Age Group (NAG), in collaboration with Hindu University of America, Chinmaya Mission and the Sikh Society of Central Florida, invite the public to a multi-faith workshop focusing on human values. The event will be held this Sunday, November 4, from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm, at the Community Hall of the Hindu Society of Central Florida (1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707). Following the event, tea, coffee and snacks will be served and attendees will have opportunity to get acquainted and interact socially. The event’s objective is to promote universal brotherhood. Speakers have been invited from Orlando’s many faith traditions, with each speaker being asked to take up to five minutes to provide a brief history of his or her faith and outline the main human values the faith teaches. Direct inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Kristallnacht Remembrance. You’re invited to a community program in remembrance of “Kristallnacht–The Night of Broken Glass,” this Sunday, November 4, at 4:00 pm at the Hy and Harriett Lake Auditorium on the Jewish Community Center campus (851 N. Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751). Each year the Holocaust Center invites the community to remember the infamous nights of November 9 and 10, 1938, a date many scholars identify as the beginning of Hitler’s Final Solution. We meet to acknowledge the great loss of life and culture that grew out of that terrible night. We also remember those who survived and those who rescued them. For more detail about the event, go to the Holocaust Center’s website. For a brief essay on why non-Jews as well as Jews should participate in this event, go to “This problem belong everybody” on the Interfaith Council’s website.
3. “Religion 101″ Series Continues. Are you interested in a quick overview of the teachings and practices of the various faith traditions in Central Florida? The Holocaust Center (851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751) and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida are partnering on a “Religion 101″ Series to make it easy and fun for the busy person to become much more knowledgeable without a huge investment of time. This nine-segment, once-a-month series features a free one-hour presentation and half hour of Q & A. The series started in September by examining Buddhism. In October we looked at Islam. On November 8, at 7:00 pm at the Holocaust Center, Rabbi David Kay will present an overview of Judaism. For more detail, go to the Holocaust Center’s website. December’s presentation will be on Christianity.
4. Harmony House to Be Dedicated. History will be made when from 3:00 to 4:30 pm on Sunday, November 11, a Habitat for Humanity House is dedicated at 111 East Street, Altamonte Springs 32701. The project, dubbed Harmony House, is believed to be the first of its kind in Central Florida–because it was a joint effort between Christian churches, Jewish synagogues and Muslim mosques. Thus the title Harmony House. The public is invited to share in the celebration of this interfaith milestone. Although an array of individuals and congregations played at least some part, the major participants were Congregation Ohev Shalom; First Congregational Church of Winter Park; Islamic Society of Central Florida; Congregation of Reform Judaism; Orlando Florida Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Northland, a Church Distributed; and Markham Woods Church of Seventh-day Adventists.
5. Interfaith Adoption and Foster-Care Event. In all faiths, it is the believers’ responsibility to take care of orphan children. Make sure representatives of your faith-based group are attending this special event to heighten awareness concerning foster-care and adoption programs in Central Florida. Join us for a panel of speakers including Judge Daniel Dawson on how faith-based groups can, by working together, take the first steps in helping these children find their forever homes. This event, which is free but requires registration, is sponsored by the Islamic Society of Central Florida. It will be conducted on Thursday night, November 15, at 7:00 pm at 1021 North Goldenrod Road, Orlando, FL 32807. Direct inquiries to 407-273-8363. Download flyer for registration details: foster care event flyer PDF.pdf 668K View Download.
6. Your Chance to Help Feed 1 Million People! The Catholic Diocese of Orlando, in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services, is hoping to enlist 4,000 people of all faiths and no faith to participate in a simple, practical, enjoyable challenge: package 1 million meals for people in Burkina Faso, the world’s third-poorest nation. This is a great opportunity for our community to band together to do something significant for those in real need. And the simple meal being provided is not only nutritious but is something those in Burkina Faso are used to eating. For details of how you can participate in this exciting adventure on November 18 and to see the poster for the event, check out the following: CRSmealpacking7-26.pdf 359K View Download.
7. Save the Date/Register for Kushner Lecture. Last month we mentioned that Congregation Beth Am and Congregation of Reform Judaism (CRJ) will sponsor a community-wide interfaith presentation by Rabbi Harold Kushner on January 23, 2013, at the Congregation of Reform Judaism at 7:30 pm. (Please note the change of location.) Full details and registration are available at kushnerinorlando.com. To hear a brief version of the story that led to Rabbi Kushner’s writing of the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, check out The Impetus Story.mp3
4797K Play Download.
8. Change Starts With Me. On October 23, Keith Baber of Change Starts With Me addressed the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Council concerning his organization’s objectives. The goal is to instill values at schools, in the workplace, in the public forum–everywhere, really. Or, as they describe it in their advertising, to create “A Community with Honorable Character.” The values promoted are common to all faith traditions but might not be well-received if presented directly from a faith perspective in certain settings. Change Starts With Me seeks to package these values/virtues in a neutral manner that can be promoted in any context. The organization’s website is worth checking out. The values/virtues are packaged in an attractive, eye-catching way that could be useful in the houses of worship of all faiths, especially in dealing with children and youth.
9. Christians–and possibly others–may wish to register for GladdeningLight’s third annual symposium, titled “Love, Now,” which will be held at the Winter Park Civic Center, February 1-3, 2013. Matthew Fox (www.matthewfox.org), the symposium’s featured speaker, has been called “the most creative, the most comprehensive, surely the most challenging spiritual teacher in America.” An Episcopal priest and founder of the Creation Spirituality movement in Oakland, California, Fox is the author of 31 books, including Original Blessing, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ and Creativity (our text for the symposium). Four practicing artists will embody Fox’s vision of creativity—the Via Positiva, Via Negativa, Via Creativa and Via Transformativa. GladdeningLight is a Winter Park-based organization “whose mission is to explore the nexus of faith & art through spiritual retreat, hosted conferences and religious pilgrimage. GladdeningLight is a progressive Christian initiative open to all faith disciplines, representative of thoughtful spiritual seekers both inside and outside traditional religious practice.”
Artwork above: Joy by Marni Goldshlag
10. Check Out the Interfaith Council Website. Our time, funds and website expertise are limited, but we’re slowly putting together a collection of writing, resources and links that we feel will be helpful for any who are interested in greater interfaith knowledge and involvement. We have a plan concerning the range of information we want to make available. Some categories have attracted a lot of material; some are still blank. But we invite you peruse what we’ve posted so far. Please keep coming back, because more will be added regularly.
INTERFAITH COUNCIL OF CENTRAL FLORIDA NEWSLETTER–2 (October 2012)
1. Public Service Announcement. Learn a little more about the Interfaith Council of Central Florida by clicking onto our first-ever PSA (below). Thanks to Orange TV for filming, editing and producing it for us. About Us: Public Service Announcement
2. “Religion 101″ Series Continues. Are you interested in a quick overview of the teachings and practices of the various faith traditions in Central Florida but don’t have hours and hours for research? The Holocaust Center (851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751) and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida are partnering on a “Religion 101″ Series to make it easy and fun for the busy person to become much more knowledgeable without a huge investment of time. This nine-segment, once-a-month series features a free one-hour presentation and half hour of Q & A. The series started in September by examining Buddhism, and it continues at 7:00 pm this Thursday evening, October 11, with a presentation on Islam by Imam Ashiq Kermali. Next month’s feature: Rabbi David Kay on Judaism. For more detail, go to the Holocaust Center’s website. And while you’re there, check out all their upcoming events and activities, especially their November 4 Kristallnacht Remembrance.
3. Traveling Holocaust Exhibit at Valencia.Rachel Luce-Hitt of Valencia College (East Campus) contacted me me recently saying, “I am very excited to let you know that Valencia will be hosting the traveling Holocaust exhibit titled ‘The Courage to Remember.’” The exhibit is officially opening this Thursday, October 11, at 4:00 pm. Check the attachments below to learn more about this exceptional display and the public presentations that are being hosted by Valencia College as part of the event. It’s a rare educational opportunity, and one that reminds us of what happens when bigotry reigns supreme. More details. Download all attachments
4. Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. A new documentary film from Unity Productions Foundation explores the expert-gathered opinions of Muslims around the globe as revealed in the world’s first major opinion poll, conducted by Gallup, a preeminent polling organization. Gallup researchers began by asking the questions on every American’s mind: Why is there so much anti-Americanism in the Muslim world? Who are the extremists and how do Muslims feel about them? What do Muslims like and dislike about the West? What do Muslim women really want? Watch this revealing documentary, which highlights the difficulties the presence of a radical minority can create for the majority within a faith tradition.
5. Meeting the Need. The following heartwarming story didn’t make the newspapers in India, I’m told. But both Sikhs and Muslims here in Orlando have reported it to me: Because the 800 Muslims in Joshimath, Uttaranchal, India, don’t have a mosque, they generally offer their prayers in the open. However, during Eid (which is celebrated at the end of Ramadan) just a few weeks ago, it was raining heavily, making it impossible for the Muslims to offer prayers in the open. So the Sikhs invited the Muslims to offer their prayers in the Sikh gurdwara (temple). When deeds of kindness replace suspicions, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Word travels fast all the way around the world!
6. Multi-Faith Workshop to Focus on Human Values. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Hindu Temple of Orlando, the Hindu Society of Central Florida’s New Age Group (NAG), in collaboration with Hindu University of America, Chinmaya Mission and the Sikh Society of Central Florida, invite the public to a multi-faith workshop focusing on human values. The event will be held on Sunday, November 4, from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm, at the Community Hall of the Hindu Society of Central Florida, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707. Following the event, tea, coffee and snacks will be served and attendees will have opportunity to get acquainted and interact socially. The event’s objective is to promote universal brotherhood. Speakers have been invited from Orlando’s many faith traditions, with each speaker being asked to take up to five minutes to provide a brief history of his or her faith and outline the main human values the faith teaches. RSVP or send inquiries to: email@example.com.
7. Save the Date. Congregation Beth Am and Congregation of Reform Judaism(CRJ) will sponsor a community-wide interfaith presentation by Rabbi Harold Kushner on January 23, 2013, at 7:30 pm. Rabbi Kushner wrote his signature volume, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (published in 1981 and translated into 14 languages), in response to tragedy in his own life. He was initially surprised that his message resonated so deeply with faith communities around the world. He has just released the complementing study, focusing on the biblical book of Job, When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person. More details will be provided as we get nearer to the date.
8. A Few News Links of Possible Interfaith Interest. Religious persecution of Baha’is in Iran continues. | Jews and Christians respond to denigration of Muslims. | First Sikh testifies before Senate committee. | Twenty percent of U.S. not affiliated with any religion. | Non-theist groups organizing to lobby. |
INTERFAITH COUNCIL OF CENTRAL FLORIDA NEWSLETTER–1 (September 2012)
1. “Religion 101 Series.” Are you interested in a quick overview of the teachings and practices of the various faith traditions in Central Florida but don’t have hours and hours for research? The Holocaust Center (851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751) and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida are partnering on a Religion 101 Series to make it easy and fun for the busy person to become much more knowledgeable without a huge investment of time. This nine-segment, once-a-month series, will feature a free one-hour presentation and half hour of Q & A. The series starts this coming Thursday, September 13, at the Holocaust Center, with a presentation on Buddhism by Zen abbot Claudia Schippert. For more detail, go to the Holocaust Center’s website. And while you’re there, check out all the Center’s upcoming events and activities. For too many Central Floridians, the Holocaust Center is either an undiscovered or under-utilized community resource. You can help correct that.
2. Must-See Movie. For those who love Florida’s history, Florida’s flora and fauna and Florida’s scenic waterways, In Marjorie’s Wake is a must-see movie–and a chance to see it is coming on Saturday night, September 15, at 8:00 pm at Markham Woods Church of Seventh-day Adventists (505 Markham Woods Road, Longwood, FL 32779). The movie, produced locally by Equinox Documentaries, “examines the many ways in which the St. Johns River of Florida has shaped culture — literature, art and music — over time. It does so by re-creating a historic trip that Pulitzer-prize winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings once made on the river in 1933.” Members of the production team will be present to answer questions and to tell more about how the movie came about. This documentary, which was shown as part of Orlando’s Global Peace Film Festival when the film first came out, is being screened free of charge as a lead-up to this year’s festival. This screening is sponsored by the GPFF, the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and Equinox Documentaries. The film has been featured nationwide on PBS.
3. Global Peace Film Festival. Once again the Interfaith Council of Central Florida is partnering with the GPFF to help bring to you an array of thought-provoking movies that directly or indirectly address the issue of peace. The Festival runs September 18-23, utilizing a variety of venues downtown, on college campuses and elsewhere. The movie specifically being sponsored this year by the Interfaith Council is Rise and Dream, which will be screened at 1:30 pm on Saturday, September 22, and at 5:30 pm on Sunday, September 23. The latter showing will be followed by a panel of interfaith representatives discussing the implications of the film from their varied faith perspectives. But don’t limit yourself to the Interfaith Council-sponsored movie. Check out the entire film festival. You won’t be disappointed.
4. Interfaith Service Conducted in Sikh Gurdwara (Temple). On Thursday evening, August 16, representatives of the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Unitarian Universalist faith traditions participated in an Interfaith Service at the Sikh gurdwara in Oviedo. The presence of the various faiths was a show of solidarity with the local Sikh community following the atrocity earlier committed at a Sikh gurdwara near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The program included a variety of musical items, spiritual readings, chants, speeches and prayers representing the various faith traditions. An estimated seventy-five non-Sikhs joined local Sikhs for the service. The Interfaith Service was followed by a demonstration of Sikh hospitality in the form of an opportunity for conversation and excellent Indian food, in the gurdwara’s social hall. On the preceding Sunday, August 6, the Sikhs at the Oviedo gurdwara conducted an open house, which was attended by civic leaders, religious leaders and many interested people from the community. The event included speeches, tours of the facility, a chance to sit in on a Sikh worship service, wonderful Indian food and considerable education about Sikhism.
In the picture above, leaders from the Oviedo Sikh gurdwara pose with religious leaders from the various faith traditions that participated in the Interfaith Service on August 16. As a show of respect, all who enter a gurdwara cover their head and remove their shoes. Head coverings are available at the door for visitors. Worshippers typically sit on the floor during a service.
5. Who Are the Sikhs? Just in case you’re not quite sure how the Sikhs fit into the religious milieu, I’m providing a link to something that’s both informative and hilarious, titled “Sikhs vs Sheiks: Can’t We All Just Get Along?” It’s from “Totally Biased,” with W. Kamau Bell (Thursdays at 11:00 pm on FX).