February 2014

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NEWSLETTER  -  FEBRUARY  2014


Catholic Diocese Hosts Interfaith Prayer Service
The Catholic Diocese of Orlando and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida joined forces to present an Interfaith Prayer Service for Peace, which was held at St. James Cathedral on January 14. Shortly after his arrival in Orlando just over three years ago, Bishop John Noonan began this annual interfaith event. This year, however, he suggested a slight variation: emphasizing personal peace–despite the fact that we live in a world of loss and pain. A major factor in his choosing such an emphasis was the much-publicized death of Pastor Isaac Hunter, son of the Rev. Joel and Becky Hunter. You can read the report of the service at the Diocese’s website and in the Orlando Sentinel, where you can also view a photo gallery of the event.

Interfaith Youth Core Offering Resources and Livestreaming
A promo just in from the Interfaith Youth Core: “Subscribing to Interfaith YouthIFYCCore’s YouTube channel not only connects you to great resources and updates related to the movement, but also gives you live access to exciting events. OnFriday, January 31st at 12:00 pm EST, tune into our livestream of Eboo Patel’s keynote at the Atlanta Interfaith Leadership Institute. . . . Student interfaith leaders from across the country are gathering in Atlanta this January to learn how they can help build the interfaith movement. Join them as they learn about the key role they play in making interfaith cooperation a social norm and the impact they can make on campus. . . . We’ll see you online on January 31st! In the meantime, check out one Eboo’s most recent pieces on the emerging field of interfaith studies within higher education.”

“Friends Talking Faith” Radio Program Schedule
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Hear the varied perspectives of the Rev. Bryan Fulwider, Rabbi Steve Engel and Imam Muhammad Musri as each week they discuss how faith impacts both the simple and the complicated aspects of life. “Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys” airs on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm on 90.7 WMFE FM in Orlando. Tune in on your radio or listen online. You can also listen to any show already aired. February’s programs are:

  • February 4: Faith and Society: Gambling
  • February 11: Faith and Culture: Love (Valentine’s Day Program                                 “LIFE: BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS” (a six-program series)
  • February 18: Faith and Politics: Contraception (first of six)
  • February 25: Faith and Politics: Abortion (second of six)

Adventist Theologian to Present Weekend Series
Richard RiceThe Central Florida chapter of the Adventist Forum is sponsoring three lectures by noted Seventh-day Adventist theologian Richard Rice the weekend of February 7 and 8. Under the general title “Portraits in the Gallery of Faith,” Dr. Rice will open at 7:30 pm on Friday with “Pictures of Jesus: the man everybody knows,” at Florida Hospital Adventist Church (2800 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL). At 10:00 am on Saturday morning, he will present “Pictures of the church: the community nobody understands,” at 10 am at Forest Lake Academy(500 Education Loop, Apopka, FL). The series will conclude with “Pictures of God: the Father we all wish we had,” at 3:30 pm Saturdayat the Florida Hospital Adventist Church. There will be ample opportunity at each presentation for questions and open dialogue. His latest book, Suffering and the Search for Meaning: Contemporary Responses to the Problem of Pain, will be available from Intervarsity Press in July 2014.  Along with several dozen articles in a variety of journals and periodicals, Dr. Rice is a frequent presenter at conferences dealing with theology, church life, human suffering, biblical studies, ethics, and the philosophy of religion. Admission is free and the public is invited. For further information, contact Ernie Bursey at Ernie.Bursey@adu.edu.

Calling All Who Love Photographing Naturefriends of Wekiva 4
Photographers of all skill levels are invited to the February field trip of Friends of the Wekiva River at 8:00 am on Saturday, February 8, beginning at the new nature pavilion above the spring at Wekiwa Springs State Park (1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka, FL 32712). Photographer and Wekiwa Springs assistant park manager Amy Conyers and accomplished photographer Don Brouillard (see examples of his work) will lead a morning of education, photography and nature appreciation. Bring any type of camera to learn new techniques and put them into practice. The only charge is a park entrance fee of $6 per vehicle. Comfortable walking shoes, insect repellant, drinking water and a camera are recommended. The field trip will include light hiking over uneven terrain for less than one mile. The event will last one to two hours, but participants are welcome to enjoy the park all day. For more information, contact Conyers at 407- 884-2006or Amy.Conyers@dep.state.fl.us 

Media Setting “Unreal” Standards for Female Perfection
The media is doing a number on us. Women especially are subjected to impossible standards of beauty and femininity. And the pressure comes early, then hangs around, as this one-minute thought-provoking video demonstrates. Typically, only the most beautiful, most shapely, most alluring, most appealing, most witty, most-everything-else women and girls are featured in ads, TV programs and movies. But even these near-perfect specimens of female humanity are airbrushed and photoshopped to even higher levels of unachievable “Barbie Doll” perfection. That in turn makes boorish onlookers feel free to comment on theabsence of such perfection within the rank and file. By the way, you can find other similar eye-opening and insightful social-commentary videos at http://www.filmsforaction.org andhttp://www.upworthy.com. Both sites are worth checking out–even if you don’t always agree with the point of view of every video featured there or the willingness to use “street language” at times.

Study Says Christianity Dominates United Nations
United-Nations-011 2According to an article posted on theguardian.com: “Christianity dominates the United Nations and more diversity is needed to increase non-Christian representation in world peacemaking, according to a study. . . . Research undertaken by Prof Jeremy Carrette, with colleagues from the University of Kent’s department of religious studies, has revealed that more than 70% of religious non-government organisations (NGOs) at the UN are Christian, and that there is historical privilege in allowing the Vatican a special observer status, as both a state and areligion. . . . The report, called Religious NGOs and the United Nations, calls for greater awareness, transparency and equality in the way religious NGOs operate within the UN, and more emphasis on religious tolerance. . . . Asian religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, are under-represented and funding is a major issue in preventing their equal access, it [the report] said.”

Hindu University to Host Workshop on Dharmic Traditions220px-Bharat_Mata 3
On Saturday, February 8, Hindu University of America (113 South Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, FL 32825) will host a workshop for American educators on teaching the Dharmic traditions. Dharmic traditions, which include Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh religious thought, originated from Bharatmata. The event will run from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Hindu University. Lunch will be provided. Free admission. For several years, Dr. Balram Singh, Hindu University of America and the Uberoi Foundation have collaborated to provide Dharmic workshops for middle-school, high-school and university teachers throughout the United States. However, the workshop is not limited to educators but is open to all the people who have interest in the Dharmic traditions. Please RSVP by February 1. For further information and/or to RSVP, contact Dr. Yashwant Pathak at yvpathak2010@gmail.com or Abhinav Dwivedi at abhinav@hua.edu.

Stepsister of Anne Frank to Speak in Altamonte
Eva Schloss 2The stepsister of Anne Frank will speak on February 9, at 7:00 pm at the Altamonte Hilton (350 North Lake Blvd., Altamonte Springs, FL 32701). Currently living in the the United Kingdom in London, Mrs. Eva Schloss, stepsister and childhood friend of Anne Frank, will be interviewed by Greg Dawson of the Orlando Sentinel, who has written a book about his own mother’s survival of the Holocaust. The event’s theme is: “Learning from the past, living the present, looking to the future.” Tickets cost $20 if purchased by January 31. Click here for further information and to purchase tickets. The event is sponsored by Chabad of North Orlandoand Chabad of Greater Orlando.

Holocaust Exhibit Opening Ceremony in Cocoa
The Foundation For California, the City of Cocoa Beach and the Jewish Federation of Brevard will open “The Courage To Remember,” a world-acclaimed educational exhibit on the Holocaust produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, on Monday, February 10, 2014, at5:30pm at the Cocoa Beach Country Club Auditorium (5000 Tom Warriner Blvd., Cocoa Beach, FL 32931). Consisting of 42 panels, the exhibit, which has been viewed in dozens of countries across six continents, is a historical account of the Nazis’ murderous campaign in which 6 million Jews plus millions of others (political dissidents, POWs, Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals and the mentally ill) were killed between 1933 and 1945. Comprised of 200 original photographs, many never seen before by the general public, “The Courage To Remember” offers a powerful, compelling insight into the Holocaust. For further information and to RSVP: phone 562-355-1325 or email tedgover@gmail.com.

Interfaith Discussion to Be Held February 12
Since February 12 is the 205th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, that evening’s interfaith discussion theme will be: “How does your faith tradition harmonize–or does it not even try to?–its creation story with the theory of evolution?” The group meets from 7:00 to 8:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at Adventist University of Health Sciences on Florida Hospital’s main campus. The discussions are respectful, open and candid, and the participants represent a variety of faith traditions as well as those who question the validity of faith altogether. For directions to the meeting place, click here. Admission is free. Everyone is invited.

Feb. 13 Teacher Forum: Women and the Holocaust
On Thursday, February 13, at 6:00 pm, the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751) will feature the presentation “Women and the Holocaust” as part of its Teacher Forum series. The Nazi regime targeted all Jews, both men and women, for persecution and eventual death. However, the regime frequently subjected women to brutal persecution that was sometimes unique to their gender. The complex issues of sex — including rape, sterilization, and pregnancy — were part of the female experience. How did women fare? Teacher forums are open to the community at large, and there is no cost to attend. They are created to expand knowledge about the Holocaust and offer an opportunity for Professional Development (inservice) credits. Forums begin at 6:00 pm and last approximately two hours. A reception for teachers begins at 5:15. For further information and to RSVP, phone 407-628-0555. Click here for other upcoming events.

In 2013 Twice as Many Christians Killed WorldwideOpen Doors 2
According to the annual survey done by Open Doors, “a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide,” the number of “cases of Christians killed for their faith around the world doubled in 2013” compared to the previous year. Open Doors said it “had documented 2,123 ‘martyr’ killings, compared with 1,201 in 2012.” The highest number of Christian deaths in 2013 in any one country–1,213 killings–happened in Syria. Open Doors is conservative in its numbers, reporting only what it has been able to confirm. Some other groups place the number of Christians killed for their faith in 2013 as high as 8,000. Read more about it at the Huffington Post.

Overall Religious Hostilities Reach Six-Year High
Christians aren’t the only group facing persecution for their faith (see item above). The problem is rampant against many faiths. And growing. The Pew Research Center recently reported on a survey showing that “a third (33%) of the 198 countries and territories included in the study had high religious hostilities in 2012, up from 29% in 2011 and 20% as of mid-2007. Religious hostilities increased in every major region of the world except the Americas. The sharpest increase was in the Middle East and North Africa, which still is feeling the effects of the 2010-11 political uprisings known as the Arab Spring. There also was a significant increase in religious hostilities in the Asia-Pacific region, where China edged into the ‘high’ category for the first time.”

Even the Buddhists Are Persecuting Others
praying Buddhist 2In an opinion essay posted on the Sun Sentinel website on January 20, 2014, Rabbi Bruce Warshal states: “All religions can be perverted, but there are certain oxymorons that are hard to contemplate, such as a war-mongering Quaker, a religiously zealot Unitarian or a violent Buddhist.” But even Buddhists can succumb to hatred and violence, as events have shown in Myanmar (read more about the conflict at theHuffington Post). Rabbi Warshal’s opinion essay wasn’t designed to malign Buddhists. Rather, it was intended to be a wake-up call for all of us. “I want to learn from this,” he said. “ . . . [I]f this hatred can flourish in a Buddhist country, it could happen anywhere. Human frailty is universal. No religion, no nationality, is exempt.”

“Festival of Arts & Spirit” at Villages Feb. 15
On February 15, 2014, the United Church of Christ at the Villages, in conjunction withGladdening Light, will present a “Festival of Arts & Spirit,” with featured speaker Rev. Dr. Charles McCollough, a noted sculptor and author. Other artists who are speaking andGladdening Light 6presenting their art work will be Mr. Randall Robertson, multimediaist; the Rev. Duain Vierow,  painter; Ms. June Keener Wink, author, potter and dancer, along with Ms. Ann Marie Genco. In addition to speakers, the event will include displays of art, hands-on opportunities and a catered lunch, covered by the $15 ($10 students) admission fee. For a full schedule of the day’s events and to make a reservation, call 352-748-9199 or email the church office atUCCatVoffice@aol.com.

Nur Spirituality to Host “Friends in Faith Open House”
The Nur Spirituality Corner (3950 South US Hwy 17-92, Suite 2000, Casselberry, FL 32707) is sponsoring a “Friends in Faith Open House” on Monday, February 17, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. The public is invited. The event will start with a tour and light refreshments. The center invites you to join them “in opening doors to greater communication between people of all religious traditions . . . , creating opportunities for friendship, peace and understanding.” Nur Spirituality Corner is a Muslim-sponsored non-profit that offers “an open space, fellowship and spiritual enrichment programs with a focus on deepening God consciousness.” For further information contact info@NurSpirituality.org.

Religion 201 Series to Address End of the World
The Holocaust Center and the Interfaith Council are partnering in a nine-part, once-a-month series highlighting the diversity of religious thought and worldviews in Central Florida. The sixth in the series will be on Tuesday night, February 18. The theme: “Is the World Coming to an End?” Does your faith tradition have a teaching about an end of the world? Is it a grand and glorious dawning of a new era? A terrible destruction? Both? What comes after? In what ways does such a teaching impact the way adherents live life daily? Moderator: the Rev. Kathy Schmitz; with presenters/panelists from Christianity, Buddhism and Baha’i. The meeting runs from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751). The dates, topics and participating faith traditions for all nine presentations/panels are available at the Holocaust Center website.

Do You Have Questions About Islam?
Islam 2Here are three options to learn more: (1) The Islamic Center of Orlando is sponsoring an open house at 6:30 pm every Wednesday night to answer the public’s questions about the Islamic faith. And it’s being done in a relaxed and casual setting “over a cup of coffee.” They’re even providing the coffee! The question-and-answer events will be held in the dining room of the Muslim Academy of Orlando (MAGO), situated at 11551 Ruby Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32836 (just off Apopka-Vineland Road, near Lake Buena Vista). For more detail or to make a reservation, phone 407-495-6139(2) Every Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Islamic Society of Central Florida’s Center for Peace (1021 North Goldenrod Road, Orlando, Florida 32807) you can learn about Islam and Muslims from Muslims. The sessions include in-depth discussions, film presentations, field trips and much more. The goal is to help build a community based on acceptance and respect. Register here. For more detail, phone 407-273-8363(3) On the fourth Saturday of every month, the Islamic Society of Central Florida hosts an “Open House Invitational” at which you can learn about Islam and the Muslim community from the Muslims themselves. The event Includes a presentation, a question-and-answer time, an international dinner, a tour of the mosque, and more. The event is conducted at the Center for Peace at the headquarters of the Islamic Society of Central Florida (1021 North Goldenrod Road, Orlando, Florida 32807).  A tour of the mosque will be conducted at 5:30 pm, followed by the rest of the program. Register atEventbrite. The next two invitationals are February 22 and March 22.

Religious Composition Capitol Hill
Are you interested in knowing the faith traditions of our nation’s top lawmakers? The Pew Forum makes such information only “a click of the mouse” away. Check it out.

India’s 2014 Election–Now That’s Diversity!
When it comes to religious diversity–or diversity in general, for that matter–India has few peers. As one observer has demonstrated about the upcoming 2014 election there, it is indeed a diverse country. One that has played a major role in history, and one that’s positioning itself to once again do so. Check out just how diverse this substantial piece of Asia really is.

And Orange County Has Major Diversity, Too!
Spoiler Alert: There’s a quiz question coming up. So don’t look ahead and see the answer. Students in Orange County Public Schools come from how many countries and speak how many languages or dialects? Have you done your guessing? The answer is: 191 countries and 161 languages and dialects. As for racial/ethnic background, the student population is 62 percent white, 29 percent black, 5 percent Asian, 3 percent multicultural and 1 percent American Indian or Alaska Native. Dividing the students yet another way, 36 percent are Hispanic, and 64 percent are non-Hispanic. Oh, and by the way, the OCPS is the 10th largest public school system in the entire United States.

Recent Publications by Interfaith Council Leaders
Members of the executive committee and/or advisory board of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida have had four articles published/posted since the January newsletter was emailed. On January 7 and 12, respectively, Imam Muhammad Musri had an article on the Huffington Post and Pastor James Coffin in the Orlando Sentinel. Click on their names to link to the articles. Rabbi David Kay gave a memorable speech at the MLK Candlelight Vigil, March and Interfaith and Multicultural Service on January 12, the script of which can be accessed by clicking here.  And on January 24 and 26, respectively, Imam Muhammad Musri had an article on the Huffington Post and the Rev. Bryan Fulwider had an article in the Orlando Sentinel.

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Pastor James Coffin Imam Muhammad Musri Rabbi David Kay The Rev. Bryan Fulwider

Your Tax-Deductible Contributions Always Appreciated
Despite what you’ve been told, death and taxes aren’t life’s only certainties. There’s at least one more: Nonprofits are always looking for contributions to sustain the good work they’re doing. The Interfaith Council of Central FloridaFriends Talking Faith With the Three Wise Guys radio program, Building US and the just-emerging InterDiversity Institute–all of which work closely together–invite those who are blessed by the contribution we make to the community to help us in return. All contributions are tax-deductible and may be sent to: PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310. Indicate which of the four entities above you wish to receive the benefit of your gift.

Buddhist Reflection
The greatest achievement is selflessness.Buddha
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the world’s ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.–Atisa

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  James Coffin, Executive Director
PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310
|T  321-228-4599   | E  jim@interfaithfl.org
| W  http://interfaithfl.org/
Please forward this email to any you feel would be interested. To be placed on the Interfaith Council’s email newsletter list, send your request to jim@interfaithfl.org.