|Central Florida Philanthropist Receives Papal Honor
“Jewish philanthropist Alan Ginsburg [a major supporter of the Interfaith Council and other interfaith ventures in Central Florida] was recently awarded the Benemerenti Medal, a papal honor bestowed by Pope Francis, for his vision in creating a space where Catholic and Jewish students can fulfill their spiritual needs, side by side, while attending the University of Central Florida,” reports an article on the website of the Catholic Foundation of Central Florida, Inc. “Ginsburg funded the construction of the Catholic Campus Ministry Center and adjacent Hillel Center, which opened last year. . . . Bishop John Noonan and Allan Keen, chairman emeritus of the Board of Directors for the CFOCF, surprised Ginsburg with the medal and scroll from Pope Francis during a private luncheon, attended by about 75 family, friends and colleagues, on Tuesday, Aug. 26 at the Catholic Campus Ministry Center. . . . The medal was originally intended as a means to honor those who fought in service in the papal army. In 1926, Pope Pius XI began bestowing the Benemerenti Medal upon civilians. Since that time, the Holy See has presented this honor to only 168 individuals, including Ginsburg. . . . ‘One thing I want to say to you today, Mr. Ginsburg, you are truly appreciated and loved by the Catholic community for what you have done for us,’ Bishop Noonan said.”
Central Florida Atheists Hold First “Sunday Assembly”
On September 28 a new contender for people’s Sunday time and attention appeared on the scene in Central Florida–Sunday Assembly. Sunday Assembly is not a church. Rather, it’s a Sunday-morning get-together where non-believers can enjoy some of the positive attributes of church without (what they consider) the negative trappings of religion. The organizers claim that atheists don’t need God, but they do need community. Those in the non-theist community who once were regular church-goers may miss some of the communal spirit that some churches very effectively generate. Other non-theists suggest that anything that smacks of church would be better left alone. But, as the saying goes, it’s different strokes for different folks–in all communities. Actually, there are quite a few different strokes (i.e. organizations) available for Central Florida’s non-theists. A quick glance at the website of the Orlando Coalition of Reason lists at least 14 such groups. And the website of the Central Florida Freethought Community lists even more. And soon Sunday Assembly will be added to those lists.
Northland Church to Host Seminar on Effective Charity
Bestselling co-author of the book When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself, Dr. Brian Fikkert of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development, will be the featured speaker at a Helping Without Hurting Seminar at Northland Church (530 Dog Track Road, Longwood, FL 32750) on Wednesday, October 1, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. “Handing over money is fast and easy … and therein resides the problem of many poverty-alleviation efforts,” says Dr. Fikkert. The seminar will teach participants how to effectively help people in need–moving beyond good intentions to lasting change. The principles taught will be invaluable both to those who serve marginalized people and those who simply have a heart for people in need. The cost to attend is $10, which includes lunch. The morning session with Dr. Fikkert will be webstreamed. Click here for details and to register for attendance or webstreaming reception.
Locally and Statewide, Florida Muslims Condemn ISIS/ISIL
An array of Muslim organizations in Florida have strongly condemned the barbarity of the radical group ISIS, and have declared that ISIS is hijacking Islam, that their actions are diametrically opposed to the tenets of the Muslim faith, and that they don’t have the right to call themselves Muslim. Among the many that have spoken out are: The Florida Conference of Muslim Americans, the American Muslim Youth Leadership Council , the Islamic Society of Central Florida and the Atlantic Institute.
National/International Muslim Leaders Denounce ISIS/ISIL
On September 24 the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in cooperation with the Fiqh Council of North America, joined a number of Muslim scholars and leaders at a National Press Club news conference in Washington, D.C., to release a first-of-its-kind open letter in Arabic (with English translation), signed by more than 120 international scholars of Islam and other Muslim leaders, refuting the ideology of the terrorist group ISIS and urging its supporters to repent and “return to the religion of mercy.” The 28-page open letter–which uses classical religious references and covers 24 issues such as “the killing of innocents,” “killing of emissaries,” “jihad,” “declaring people non-Muslim,” “torture” and “the caliphate”–is a result of deliberations by dozens of experts on Islamic law and offers a point-by-point deconstruction of any claimed religious justification for ISIS’s brutal actions. In its executive summary, the letter notes that Islam forbids the killing of innocent people, including diplomats, journalists and humanitarian aid workers. It also states that any jihad may only be defensive in nature with strict rules of conduct, that it is forbidden to harm religious minorities such as Christians and Yazidis, and that it is forbidden to practice slavery, destroy religious shrines or deny the rights of women. To read the entire letter and initial list of signatories, click here. See also ISIS Is Not Just Un-Islamic, It Is Anti-Islamic (TIME magazine).
Holocaust Center to Highlight Civil Rights Struggle
As part of the Teacher Forums series at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751), Dr. Julian Chambliss, Associate Professor of History at Rollins College, will present a History of the Civil Rights Struggle, on Thursday, October 2, at 6:00 pm. While looking at the moment in time–July 2, 1964–that the Civil Rights Act became law, Dr. Chambliss will also highlight the decades of work and the hundreds of activists that made that moment possible. Who were the heroes of the effort to end legalized discrimination? What motivated them to travel great distances and face great dangers in order to realize the dream of equality? Teachers Forums, which can earn inservice credit for teachers, are free of charge and open to the community at large. RSVP by email to Mitch Bloomer or phone 407-628-0555 ext 283.
“Suitable Airs” Concert to Commemorate Civil Rights Act
On Sunday, October 5, at 6:00 pm, the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation will present its annual Suitable Airs concert at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church (412 East Kennedy Blvd.) in historic Eatonville. This year’s annual production–along with numerous other Central Florida events–will focus on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Winning vocalists of the NSSF’s Grady-Rayam Prize will present a recital of arranged Negro spirituals for the first half of the concert, accompanied by Mr. Robin Stamper on piano. The second half of the program will take the form of a set of narrations and Negro spirituals appropriate to the civil-rights era. Readers representing Law, Business, Schools and Faith will provide commentary. Noted composer, singer and pianist Gale Jones Murphy will be the featured musical artist. In what has become a Suitable Airs tradition, the audience will join in the singing of favorite Negro spirituals. Learn more about the program and how you can help ensure its success.
South Asians Face Increasing Prejudice in the U.S.
According to a report by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) and posted on the Times of India website, hate crimes in the United States against South Asians (Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, in particular) and those from Arab communities have been on the increase since the 9/11 attack on 2001. The report, titled “Under Suspicion, Under Attack,” documents more than 150 incidents of hate violence or xenophobic rhetoric by political figures or government officials between January 2011 and April 2014. “Thirteen years after the tragic events of 9/11,” said Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT, “we saw consistently high numbers of hate violence incidents and a surge in xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at our communities, portraying them as un-American, unwelcome, and disloyal. Disturbingly, over 80 per cent of documented hate violence incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.” But there are also positive signs. “For example, New York City groups united across lines of race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion to pass the Community Safety Act in 2013. We now have a framework to hold the NYPD accountable for their discriminatory practices, which sow distrust of law enforcement and enshrine profiling,” said Fahd Ahmed, acting director of the DRUM–South Asian Organizing Center.
“Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys“
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. Featured in October are the final two segments of a three-part series focusing on civil rights and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. October’s programs are:
- October 7: Faith and Politics: Civil Rights and the March on Washington, with Linda Chapin
- October 14: Faith and Politics: Civil Rights, with Rev. Randolph Bracy, Jr.
- October 21: Faith and Culture: The Popular New Pope Francis, with Bishop John Noonan
- October 28: Faith and Culture: Halloween and Religion
Interfaith Discussion Wednesday, October 8
The topic for the monthly Interfaith Discussion on Wednesday, October 8, is: “Why are we seeing an increase in fundamentalism/extremism in all the religions of the world?” The discussion group meets from 7:00 to 8:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at Adventist University of Health Sciences (671 Winyah Drive, Orlando, FL 32803) 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.
Habitat ReStores Helping in a Variety of Ways
Not familiar with Habitat ReStores? Then let’s correct that situation right now. First, there’s Habitat for Humanity, that worldwide faith-based non-profit that seeks to build nice-but-no-frills houses for families who otherwise might never have their own home. You can read about it here. Habitat also rehabs existing homes when that’s the more responsible approach financially. But there’s more. To help make the new homes possible, Habitat runs a chain of “thrift” stores that sell donated items ranging from bric-a-brac to furniture to major appliances to building supplies. In some cases the donated items can be used in Habitat building projects. But more often, they’re sold to the public. Which means that people with limited income can furnish a house nicely for only a fraction of the cost of buying new. But everyone, rich or poor, is welcome to shop at ReStores. Because Habitat ReStores send trucks to pick up the donated items, many items that would otherwise just get dumped into landfills end up instead generating funds that help keep the Habitat housing ventures going. It’s actually quite an impressive story, as the video explains. And getting involved on a Habitat building project is about as rewarding as any volunteer opportunity you’ll find. Check it out for yourself.
Colloquium to Feature Author of David’s Goliath
Once again, Adventist University of Health Sciences is inviting the public to enjoy the speakers they’ve lined up for this academic year’s University Colloquium. All speakers will address the theme “Resilience.” The first presenter, David Lyons, author of the book David’s Goliath, will tell the inspiring story of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis yet rising from the depths of despair to engage in competitive bodybuilding. With his wife, Kendra, a registered nurse, Lyons founded the MS Fitness Challenge, which is dedicated to supporting people with MS, giving them the tools they need to stay as fit as possible and keep their bodies moving. When Lyons lay in his hospital bed numb from the chest down and barely able to move, he had two choices: give in to the disease and most likely end up in a wheelchair, or fight it with all his might–much as David fought against the giant Goliath in the biblical story. In his presentation, Lyons will take listeners on his journey of faith, trust and perseverance. His story encourages people with diseases, disabilities or any of life’s hardships to never give up and never, never give in to defeat. The event will be held on Wednesday, October 8, at 7:00 pm at Florida Hospital Seventh-day Adventist Church (2800 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32804). Those wishing to attend must RSVP at Eventbrite.
Interfaith Forum Being Featured for UCF’s Diversity Week
As part of Diversity Week at the University of Central Florida, the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Program for Strategic Research and Studies is hosting an Interfaith Forum. The event, which runs from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm, includes breakfast and lunch. The program, which will be held in the Pegasus Ballroom at the UCF Student Union, is free, but registration is required. Please email Andrea De La Camara to register or to get more information.
Orlando Museum of Art to Screen The Last White Knight
On Sunday, October 19, at 2:00 pm, the Orlando Museum of Art will screen the film The Last White Knight (see trailer), a retrospective on the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1960s, Canadian Paul Saltzman journeyed to help with voter registration in Mississippi. While there, he was assaulted by a group of young men led by Byron De La Beckwith, whose father was convicted in 1994 of having killed Medgar Evers in 1963. Decades later, Saltzman returns to meet with Beckwith in this powerful documentary about the best and worst of communities challenged and changed by racism. Tickets ($10.00) can be purchased here.
Public Sees Religion’s Influence Waning in Society
According to a recent release by Pew Research: “Nearly three-quarters of the public (72%) now thinks religion is losing influence in American life, up 5 percentage points from 2010 to the highest level in Pew Research polling over the past decade. And most people who say religion’s influence is waning see this as a bad thing.” But there are some interesting caveats, and the researchers suggest some possible implications. Check it out at the Pew Research website.
UCF to Screen the Film Prom Night in Mississippi
On Monday, October 20, from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the Student Union at the University of Central Florida, a film will be presented that captured history in the making–Prom Night in Mississippi. Director/Producer Paul Saltzman takes viewers through conversations with senior students as they prepare to attend their first “mixed prom” in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, in 2008. Director/Producer Paul Saltzman will lead out in a briefing and discussion following the film. For further information, email or phone Katie Pomp (407-823-6740).
OCPS Seeks Faith-Based Help for 2014 Day of Service
The Faith-Based Advisory Council of Orange County Public Schools is once again hosting a Day of Service, bringing together a range of Central Florida faith-based organizations with public schools for campus beautification efforts as part of the National Day of Service activities. Day of Service opportunities are slated for Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25. The Faith-Based Advisory Council is asking all area faith-based organizations to participate. Last year, the Hunter’s Creek Stake and Orlando South Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in the Day of Service by sending hundreds of volunteers each to Cypress Park Elementary and Palmetto Elementary schools. Some of the services they provided included: clean-up of landscaping, planting new sod and plants, painting murals in the cafeteria, organizing teacher classroom supplies and, for their youngest volunteers, writing words of encouragement on cards for students. To find out how your faith-based organization can participate in the Day of Service 2014, or how it can adopt an OCPS school, please visit the OCPS website or phone 407-317-3323.
Annual Benefit to Fund Shepherd’s Hope
Central Florida residents will display their lifesaving powers as “Heroes of Hope” atthe Shepherd’s Hope Famous Faces Masquerade Ball at 6:30 pm on Saturday, October 25, at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando® (6300 Hollywood Way, Orlando, FL 32819). Now in its 15th year, the annual fundraiser will help to “shed the mask” of one’s perception, revealing that the faces of the uninsured have changed. Despite the Affordable Care Act, one in four Central Floridians remains uninsured or underserved. More than 75 percent of those who are uninsured come from low-wage working families–not the unemployed. Event proceeds will allow Shepherd’s Hope to offer free medical care to eligible individuals at five local health centers, operated by volunteer medical providers and other professionals. For information about tickets and table and event sponsorship, email Morgan Hargrove or phone 407-876-6699 x 230.
Best of Enemies at Orlando Shakespeare Theater
On Sunday, October 26, at 7:30 pm, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater (812 East Rollins Street, Orlando, FL) and the Holocaust Center will partner for a Special-Event Performance of the play The Best of Enemies. Based on a true story about the relationship between a hate-filled leader of the KKK and an African-American civil-rights activist, the unlikely pair must work together during the 1971 desegregation of schools in Durham, North Carolina. It’s a stirring new play that exposes the poison of prejudice and the beauty of friendship. This Special-Event Performance will be preceded by a reception at 6:00 pm. This is a one-performance event at the Shakespeare Theater dedicated as a fundraiser for the Holocaust Center. The Special-Event Performance ticket price of $100 includes pre-show hors d’oeuvres and drinks prior to the performance. To reserve your seat for this special performance, call 407-447-1700. (Parental-Guideline Alert: The Shakespeare Theater notes that “The Best of Enemies is set during a racially tense period in the desegregation of Durham, North Carolina, schools. The play includes very racist and mature language, mild violence and adult themes. The play is best suited for ages 13 and up.” Click here for more specific parental guidelines.)
Church to Host Seminar “Going Digital for His Kingdom”
Calvary Assembly of God Church (1199 Clay St, Winter Park, FL 32789) is inviting Christian pastors and congregational leaders to take advantage of a seminar that Calvary Assembly is hosting on Tuesday, October 28, titled, “Going Digital for His Kingdom.” The seminar features a cluster of worship events and workshops, lasting the entire day, which train in the use of “the new media.” Click here for details of seminar topics, schedule, cost and how to register.
Hindus to Host Annual Multi-Faith Workshop on Nov 2
The New Age Group (seniors group) of the Hindu Society of Central Florida will conduct its third annual Multi-Faith Workshop in the facility’s community room (1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707) on Sunday, November 2, at 1:30 pm. The Multi-Faith Workshop is presented in collaboration with Hindu University of America, the Chinmaya Mission, the Sikh Society of Central Florida and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. The event is free, with prior RSVP. The public is invited. The program will have a double focus: prayers for global peace, and speakers from a variety of faith traditions each giving a brief presentation on what their respective faith tradition does to improve the life and opportunity for women. Refreshments and a time for social interaction will conclude the event.
Rollins College Offers Lifelong Learning Classes
Are you 50 years of age or older and have a bucket list of things you want to learn? Then the Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning may be just the thing for you. During October and November, RCLL will continue to offer an array of classes that address subjects ranging from Art to History to Estate Planning to Comparative Religion to Health to Cooking and much more. In fact, the array of classes is truly amazing. Each class costs $60, but there are a limited number of scholarships available to help those on highly limited incomes. Classes fill up, so register as soon as you know which class/classes you’d like to take. Questions may be directed to Dr. Jill Norburn.
RCLL Class “Getting To Know My Non-Christian Neighbors”
Following is the description of a class offered by the Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning: A few decades ago, the odds were overwhelming that the family moving into the house next door would be Christian. The only question was whether they’d be Baptists, Catholics, Methodists or some other denomination. But those odds are changing. Although self-described Christians still account for more than 75 percent of the U.S. population, other faith traditions are on the increase. And the fastest-growing religious affiliation in the U.S. is “no religious affiliation.” So just what is the respective worldview of these other faith/no-faith groups? Why not let them speak for themselves? At each class session, hear two presenters give a lively half-hour overview of the main features of their respective faith traditions/worldviews. Then you as a class will have half an hour to ask them questions. In all, you’ll hear eight presenters from eight faith traditions/worldviews: Baha’i, Buddhism, Hinduism, Humanism/Atheism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Unitarian Universalism. (This is a rerun of the class with the same name that was offered in September.) James Coffin, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, will serve as the class convener, and moderator of the question-and-answer periods. The dates for the classes are (all Mondays): November 3, 10, 17 and 24, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm. The classes will be held at Winter Park Towers (1111 South Lakemont Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32792). For more detail and to register, go to the news item above and follow the various links provided.
Readers Theater Available for Kristallnacht Commemoration
Seventy-six years ago on November 9 and 10, 1938, the Nazi regime in Germany and Austria unleashed their fury on the Jews and made it incontestably clear how truly sinister their intentions were. In the space of two days, at least 91 Jews were killed, 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps, more than 1,000 synagogues were destroyed (95 in Vienna alone) and some 7,000 Jewish places of business were destroyed or damaged and untold homes ransacked. The German word “Kristallnacht” refers to that night of broken glass. Last year, on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Holocaust Center made available to houses of worship, schools, classrooms, civic groups, acting classes and others the script and PowerPoint for a readers theater called “Witness,” which tells the story using the descriptions provided by victims, perpetrators and onlookers. The presentation, which is available again this year to any who might want to perform it, makes a powerful statement about bigotry and the power of a mob mentality. The script, the PowerPoint and instructions on how to proceed can be downloaded and used free of charge. Also, the Holocaust Center lending library has a limited number of videos made when “Witness” was performed at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Altamonte Springs. Those can be reserved by email and shown.
Holocaust Center Featuring Civil-Rights Exhibit
The preceding headline may be a misnomer–because in some ways the Holocaust Center’s autumn exhibit is actually about the absence of civil rights. Indeed, the absence of human civility. Titled “Hateful Things,” the exhibit, which has been created and circulated by the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, contains labels, advertisements, postcards and other printed materials that show the appalling lack of sensitivity that was, until relatively recently, accepted in American culture. The derogatory images and stereotypes provide a sickening yet compelling example of the power of propaganda to marginalize and dehumanize others. The exhibit, which is free of charge and open to the public, will be on display at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751) through December 10. Holocaust Center hours (except for holidays and Jewish holy days) are: Monday to Thursday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; Friday, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm; Sunday, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. For information, phone 407-628-0555.
Atlantic Institute Sponsoring Student Art and Essay Contest
Every year the Atlantic Institute sponsors an Art and Essay Contest for high-school and middle-school students to help promote mutual respect and to bring the issues and problems of the world to light through paintings, photographs and essays. An array of prizes are awarded, and the grand prize is an educational and cultural excursion to Turkey. The deadline for all entries is December 19. Florida students may contact Huseyin Peker for more information.
GladdeningLight’s 2015 Symposium to Start January 29
Barbara Taylor Brown–Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College; New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Church, An Altar in the World and Learning to Walk in the Dark (HarperOne); subject of a spring cover story in Time and featured as one of the magazine’s most influential people in 2014–will keynote GladdeningLight’s 2015 symposium, to be held January 29 to February 1 in Winter Park. Also appearing will be sculptor and painter Tobi Kahn, selected as one of nine artists in the 1985 Guggenheim Museum exhibition, New Horizons in American Art. Kahn will discuss the redemptive possibilities of art within the context of his Jewish faith in a Cornell Fine Arts Museum featured exhibition at Rollins College during the symposium. Performance artists Owen and Moley Ó Súilleabháin, brothers from Western Ireland who harmonize a cappella ancient canticles and Gaelic sean nos traditional folk hymns, will sing and play throughout the weekend. Click here for symposium schedule, cost and how to register. “GladdeningLight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit spiritual initiative whose mission is to explore transcendent elements of art through hosted conferences, exhibits & public performance, cloistered retreat, and pilgrimage. GladdeningLight is open to all and representative of thoughtful spiritual seekers both inside and outside traditional religious practice.”
Email Newsletter on Aging is Treasure Trove of Info
Whatever your religion, race, ethnicity, gender, political affiliation or favorite flavor of ice cream, sooner or later you’re going to reach that point where you’ll be considered “old” by many others. Eventually you’ll even consider yourself “old.” But nothing removes the downsides of the aging process like knowledge and social activity. And the email newsletter of the Orange County Commission on Aging has a wealth of knowledge to share–as well as pointing you in the direction where even more knowledge is available. And it advertises a plethora of interesting social and physical activities for those in the been-around-the-track-a-few-times crowd. So if you’re getting to that point, or if you interact significantly with someone who is, take advantage of this tremendous free resource by sending an email to subscribe. It’s free–so a truly great value!
Your Tax-Deductible Contributions Always Appreciated
The Interfaith Council of Central Florida, Friends 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.
“Declare your jihad on thirteen enemies you cannot see–egoism, arrogance, conceit, selfishness, greed, lust, intolerance, anger, lying, cheating, gossiping and slandering. If you can master and destroy them, then you will be ready to fight the enemy you can see.” ― Abu Hamid al-Ghazali