|United Against Poverty Seeking Volunteer Instructors
United Against Poverty (150 West Michigan Street, Orlando, FL 32806; formerly known as Community Food and Outreach Center), is now offering a program in which volunteers can share their experience and expertise with members of our community who trying to establish a career. The Success Training Employability Program (STEP) is an intensive 3-hours-per-day, 5-days-per-week, 8-week course to encourage the development of emotional intelligence, workplace skills and job-acquisition techniques. Each volunteer instructor in the program works directly with adult students one day a week for the eight weeks of the course to aid in their growth and development. Those interested in being a STEP Instructor should contact Carla Cox, United Against Poverty’s Director of Volunteer Engagement, either by email or phone (407-454-2834).
LGBTQ Groups Call for Unity After Orlando Shooting
Some 50 organizations that advocate for LGBTQ rights issued a joint statement following the June 12 massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, which reads in part: “The animus and violence toward LGBTQ people is not news to our community. It is our history, and it is our reality. In 1973, 32 LGBTQ people died in an arson fire at an LGBTQ Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans. More than forty years later, similar acts of anti-LGBTQ violence are commonplace. Crimes motivated by bias due to sexual orientation and gender identity were the second-largest set of hate crimes documented by the FBI in 2015 (over 20 percent). Murders and violence against transgender people globally have taken more than 2000 lives over the last nine years. . . . . LGBTQ people experience violence not only by strangers, but also in their everyday environments by employers, coworkers, landlords and neighbors. The Orlando shooting is simply an extreme instance of the kind of violence that LGBTQ people encounter every day. . . . We appeal to all in our movement and all who support us to band together in rejecting hatred and violence in all its shape-shifting forms. . . .” Read the full statement and list of signatories here.
Muslim Expresses Hope in the Midst of Turmoil
In a special episode of the Interfaith Youth Core’s podcast Common Knowledge, IFYC team member and educator Jenan Mohajir speaks out on the violent events that have defined our summer. Jenan shares how her Ramadan experiences were marked by both undeniable anguish and a renewed commitment to connect with those under threat, as we continue to grapple with a near-constant stream of tragedies both in and outside the United States. Listen to the five-minute podcast here.
Inquiring Minds Class a Great Way to Start a Sunday
If you like getting your Sunday morning off to a good start by doing some mind stretching, there may be no better place to do it than in the Inquiring Minds class at the University Unitarian Universalist Society (11648 McCulloch Road, Orlando, FL 32817), where there’s always a great discussion about things that are important but often ignored, lost sight of or deliberately avoided. Currently the class is just completing a video lecture series titled “Emerson, Thoreau and the Transcendentalist Movement,” which provides the basis for the subsequent discussion. On Sunday, July 31, at 9:00 am, the Inquiring Minds class will watch the 21st lecture from the series, which is about Emily Dickinson, who “might not have called herself a Transcendentalist” but whose “work cannot be fully understood without reference to the people who surrounded her in Transcendentalist circles in Massachusetts.” The first 10 minutes of the class (9:00 to 9:10 am) are devoted to a group meditation. If you do not wish to participate in the meditation, please plan to arrive between 9:10 and 9:15—or enter the room quietly, be seated, and remain quiet until the meditation is over. Everyone is welcome.
Buddhists to Hold 49-Day Ceremony for Pulse Slain
On Sunday, July 31, at 3:00 pm, Buddhists from Central Florida will perform a traditional 49-Day Ceremony in honor of those killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12. The event will be at The Center for Pranic Healing, 619 North Thornton Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803. Traditionally, the period of 49 days after someone dies is seen as a time for that person to check their consciousness and process their karma. Buddhists say that we don’t really know what happens when we die, but the Buddha taught that there is no birth-no death, no coming-no going, no self-no other. These apparent opposites are actually a misperception on our part. Click here to read more about the event and the Buddhist teaching on which it is based.
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 complex aspects of life. These three clergy come together as friends to discuss topics from the perspective of the different religions they represent. They contend that “good religion works for peace, respects and values others regardless of their religious perspective, and works through acts of compassion to make the world a better place for everyone.” 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. On August 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, program guests will include a variety of religious leaders sharing their thoughts and ideas regarding the political issues raised during the Republican and Democrat national conventions. Included will be the Honorable Wendell Griffen of Arkansas (clergyman in the Baptist tradition), Dr. Barry Kurzin, (a Buddhist monk and personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama) and other faith leaders. Tune in to hear these interesting and important conversations as we look toward the November general election.
Youth Says Sikhism More Than Just Another Religion
“From living in the south all my life, I’ve become versed in Christian practices and teachings. Being introduced to a new religion isn’t something that happens every day, but when my grandparents, who came to America from India, taught me about their religion, I became so intrigued in the surprisingly logical teachings and practices.” That’s how a youthful writer describes her introduction and reaction to Sikhism. Her observations are simple and succinct, but according to many lifetime Sikhs, she captures the core of what’s really important about this 500-year-old religion. Read her brief analysis here.
How Can Everyone Help OCPS? The Ways Are Many!
Orange County Public Schools has opportunities for faith-based entities, community organizations and every individual in the region to help make the county’s schools more effective. Not only are faith-based and other community organizations invited to adopt a school, everyone can help raise funds for schools through a program called Fuel My School, and it’s as easy as 1-2-3. When you’re shopping at all your favorite online stores–be sure to do it through your school’s online mall at FuelMySchool.com. The school you’ve designated will get a commission. And it’s at no extra cost to you! Is that great opportunity or what? Check it out. The students and teachers of Orange County will be grateful.
‘A Gift For Teaching’ Hosting Back-To-School Drive
It’s great to have good teachers. It’s great to have willing students. But teachers often need more supplies than are provided by the tight budgets in school districts. That’s where A Gift For Teaching comes in, providing classroom supplies some 338 public schools where more than 210,000 students come from families who live at or below the poverty line, and 13,000 are homeless. Moved by this need and the fact that teachers, on average, were spending between $500 and $1,000 out of their own pockets each year to provide basic supplies for their students, philanthropist and nonprofit professional Gary Landwirth founded A Gift For Teaching in 1998. During AGFT’s Back-to-School Drive, which this year runs from August 1 to September 16, the organization is inviting faith groups, other groups and individuals to join more than 100 businesses in hosting drives and raising awareness of the need for cashand in-kind contributions. Click here for more information. Direct your questions here.
Shepherd’s Hope Offering Free School Physicals
Throughout August, Shepherd’s Hope, in partnership with Nemours Children’s Health System, is hosting its third annual Back-to-School Physicals initiative for local uninsured and underinsured children. Physicals will be provided at: Longwood Shepherd’s Hope Health Center, Sharing Center Plaza, 600 North US 17-92, Longwood, August 3, 4 and 8 from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. For more detail phone 407-876-6699 ext. 243. Physicals will also be provided at: Dr. Diebel, Jr. Memorial Shepherd’s Hope Health Center, Samaritan Resource Center, 2008 North Goldenrod Road, Orlando, August 4, 11 and 25 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. For more detail phone 407-876-6699 ext. 247. This service is made possible with support from TLCRx Specialty Pharmacy. Over the past two years, Shepherd’s Hope has provided back-to-school physicals for more than 320 children. This free service assists families whose children need general health assessments and sports physicals; however, immunizations will not be provided. To qualify, children must be under the age of 18 and uninsured. The Florida Department of Health required form (DOH 3040) will be issued following completion of the physical examination, which meets the Florida state requirement for enrollment in public or private school. According to Healthy Florida, nearly 31,840 uninsured children reside in Orange County, ranking it 17th in the nation for uninsured children. Approximately 48,349 children in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties combined do not have health insurance.
Volunteers Needed to Teach Children Healthy Habits
Central Florida residents age 50 and older are needed as volunteers to teach children ages 6 to 11 about healthy eating and fitness. The teaching will be at Winter Park Community Center, local schools and at other youth organizations. A free training class is provided by the Rollins College CATCH Healthy Habits program on September 14 and 15. For further information, phone 407-646-2459. Click here to submit a volunteer application.
Buddhists to Host Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration
Guang Ming Temple (6555 Hoffner Avenue, Orlando, FL 32822) is hosting this year’s “Abolition 2020: Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration” on Saturday, August 6, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. The event will be moderated by Nelson Betancourt, Executive Director of AWAKENING/art & culture. The speaker panel will include Venerable Chueh Fan, Director of Guang Ming Temple; Veronica Rios of Global Zero; Bassem Chaaban from the Center for Peace/Islamic Society of Central Florida; Rev. George Nursey from the Ecumenical Office of Orlando Catholic Diocese; and Dr. Steve Phalen from the Quakers of Orlando. Medicine Man Joe Iron Horse will also perform. In addition to the panel discussion, there will be a couple of short films, a question-and-answer period and refreshments. The public is invited.
A Few Considerations about Meat Consumption
Ever thought of going vegan? Ever wonder about the pros and cons of eating meat? The writer of an article on The Washington Post website, titled “Meat Is Horrible,” doesn’t seem to have too many questions. Nor do some of those who posted comments disagreeing with her. Clearly, there are two sides to this issue. However, the article does have several interesting graphs that, if accurate, are probably worth noting, granted that we live in an increasingly crowded world with limited resources.
Habitat May Be Just the Right Venue for You to Volunteer
Looking for just the right volunteer opportunity? Want to introduce members of your faith community to the rewards and joys of working together as a team of volunteers? Then Habitat for Humanity Seminole-Apopka may be what you’re looking for. Habitat’s mission is to create successful homeownership by partnering with hardworking families and the community to build simple and affordable homes. Habitat is able to do this by utilizing hardworking volunteers, no matter the level of experience. There are a few conditions, however. Like being at least 18 (or 16 with parental waiver). Promising to arrive by 8:30 am and guaranteeing to stay on the job until 3:00 pm on the day or days you volunteer. Attending an orientation prior to volunteering. Wearing the right clothing. Commonsense stuff, in other words. Learn more by contacting Lindsay Riessen.
Concerned about Drug Abuse? Help Is Available
Drug abuse is a lurking danger that knows no boundaries. Everyone is potentially vulnerable. Members of the faith community are no exception. So who does one turn to for help? Two websites that might be a helpful place to start gleaning the information you need are: Addiction Resource, which raises awareness on the dangers of addiction and helps local communities stay drug-free; and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, which also promotes drug-abuse prevention and treatment.
Interfaith Discussion: ‘Can Love Change the World?’
“Can Love Change the World? And If So, How?” On Wednesday evening, August 10, come participate in the monthly Interfaith Discussion sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. The discussion is held 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 exchanges 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.
Hindus Invite Public to Celebrate with Them
The Hindu Society of Central Florida is inviting the public to join them in their celebration of India’s Independence Day on Sunday, August 14, from 12:30 to 2:00 pm in their Community Hall (1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707). The event is for all ages and will highlight Indian culture and heritage. Light refreshments and hot tea will be served. The event is free of charge provided an email RSVP has been received no later than August 8. Without prior RSVP, there will be a $5.00 charge per person at the gate. For more information, phone the temple office (407-699-5277).
Masses of Muslims in India Denounce Terrorist Groups
From an article posted on the Independent website: “Nearly 70,000 Indian Muslim clerics have signed a fatwa against ISIS and other terror groups saying they were ‘not Islamic organizations’. . . . Around 1.5 million Muslims visiting a shrine dedicated to a Sufi Islamic saint near the city of Ajmer in north western state of Rajasthan during the Urs religious festival have signed a petition against terrorist attacks. . . . Mufti Mohammed Saleem Noori, one of the clerics who signed the fatwa, . . . called on media organizations to stop referring to the groups—including ISIS, the Taliban and al-Qaeda—as ‘Islamic.’”
Christian Pastor from Turkey to Speak at Atlantic Institute
In a presentation titled “The Pastor’s Diary: My Muslim Neighbors,” Rev. Dr. Turgay Ucal, founder and the senior pastor of the All Saints Moda Presbyterian Church in Istanbul, Turkey, will speak on Tuesday, September 6, at the Atlantic Institute (940 South Winter Park Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707) as part of the Atlantic Institute’s Lecture Series. Rev. Ucal has a PhD in Biblical Theology from Miami International Seminary and he has numerous publications and papers about Islam and Christianity. He has been a leader in the Istanbul community for 26 years. The event will start at 6:00 pm with a light dinner, followed by the presentation at 6:30and a question-and-answer period at 7:30. For more detail, phone 321-203 2191. Click here to register.
Muslims Thanking Friends and Neighbors, Hosting Picnic
The Islamic Center of Orlando has sent out an email message of appreciation, which is abbreviated here: “Thank you so much to all of you who came and attended one of our many Interfaith Iftars at the Islamic Center of Orlando during the holy month of Ramadan. It was a very special and important time for us, and we feel blessed to have been able to share it so wonderfully and beautifully with you. This year, Ramadan was an especially trying time for us as Muslims in America, and the tremendous outpouring of support we received from the community was essential in helping us to continue moving ahead with the work that we do here. It is in that spirit, that we have begun to plan what will be our largest interfaith gathering yet. We would be honored if you could attend our interfaith family picnic at the Islamic Center of Orlando. The event, scheduled for Sunday, September 24, at 5:00 pm, will be held on the soccer fields behind the Muslim Academy of Greater Orlando. Kindly RSVP by email or by phone (407-495-6139) by September 22.
Save the Date: Seventh Annual Florida Faith Symposium
The seventh annual Florida Faith Symposium will be held November 2-3 at the Wyndham Orlando Resort. The Symposium is one of the State of Florida’s premier events to bring together leaders of faith, child welfare, juvenile justice and others to talk about how we can more effectively work together to empower Florida’s children and families and set them on a path to success. The event is being held in collaboration with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Florida Department of Children and Families and their partner, the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council. Go the Faith Symposium website for more information and to register.
Save the Date: Suicide-Prevention Training
Park Lake Presbyterian Church (309 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32801), in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute, will host a daylong training event designed to help faith-community leaders, clergy, program staff, lay ministers, office staff and therapists learn how to save the life of someone contemplating suicide. The event will be held on November 19 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. For more detail and to register, contact Rev. Dr. Helen DeBevoise (407-841-6550) or Rev. Dr. Paige McRight (321-438-8621).
Local Rabbi Organizing 2017 Trip to Israel
Rabbi Rick and Elissa Sherwin of Congregation Beth Am in Longwood are inviting those of all faiths or no faith to join them for a tour of Israel from June 12 to 23, 2017. Rabbi Sherwin describes the venture as “the pilgrimage of a lifetime as we explore Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, Tel Aviv and beyond.” He says many age groups, membership levels and people representing diverse religious practices are already represented on the “interested” list. Some highlights of the planned trip: Torah experience and renewal of wedding vows at the Western Wall; camel ride, kayaking, swimming; ancient and modern Jerusalem, Knesset, Masada, underground grottos, Caesarea; hands-on archaeology dig; Christian sites such as Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Via Dolorosa; modern Israeli technology experience; meet with military personnel, Israeli Arabs; and more. For more information or to be added to the “interested” list, email Nikki Botwinik.
Your Contributions Are Greatly Appreciated
If you appreciate what’s being achieved by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and Friends Talking Faith With the Three Wise Guys radio program, we invite you to contribute on a regular basis to these community-based, community-benefitting activities. It may be every month, once a quarter or annually. And it may be a large contribution or small. But whatever it is, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you played a part in helping to make our community more harmonious and peaceful. All contributions are tax-deductible and may be sent to: PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310. Or you can click here to contribute online. Thank you for your help.
“Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth; it should give birth to spirituality, and bring light and life to every soul. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it would be better to be without it… Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion.”—Abdu’l-Bahá, eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í faith