January 2017

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NEWSLETTER  -  JANUARY 2017


Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise GuysThree 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. January’s programs will feature a variety of religious leaders and other guests sharing their thoughts about the meaning of the freedoms gained, the progress made and the ongoing challenges and goals that remain concerning which Martin Luther King Day reminds us. Also, the Three Wise Guys will discuss the presidential inauguration and the expectations of a new and decidedly different kind of presidency. What does this mean for the United States and other nations? How does religion enter into the political climate of 2017? These topics and more will be addressed each Tuesday during January at 6:30 pm. 

Interfaith Lake County Offering Slate of Programs
Interfaith Lake County, a new organization formed in the latter half of 2016, has hit the ground running and is sponsoring and/or promoting a number of programs in Lake County or neighboring counties during the first quarter of 2017. Included are: (1) A panel discussion on “Faith During Life’s Challenges and Transitions,” at Corpus Christi Episcopal Church (3430 CR 470, Okahumpka, FL 34762) on Friday, January 6, 5:00 pm. Refreshments provided. Please RSVP to 352-787-8430. (2) Peace Prayer Partners Interfaith Service at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church (1351 Paige Place, Lady Lake, FL 32159) on Wednesday, January 18, 6:30 pm. Clergy from the Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Bahai faith communities will lead a service of prayer and healing for our troubled world. All are welcome. Clergy wishing to be included as service leaders should RSVP to David O’Brien by phone (352-753-0989) or email. (3) Interfaith Educational Forum at Congregation Beth Sholom (315 North 13th Street, Leesburg, FL 34748) on Thursday, February 23, 7:00 pm. (4) Interfaith Educational Forum at Unity Spiritual Center (509 CR 468, Fruitland Park, FL 34731) on Thursday, March 16, 7:00 pm. For more information about Interfaith Lake County, email Sandy Conn Arnold.

HUA Offering MA in Conflict, Peace and Hindu Philosophy
HinduHindu University of America (5200 Vineland Road, 120, Orlando, FL 32811) is launching a new online Master of Arts program in Conflict, Peace and Hindu Philosophy (MA-CPH) starting in January 2017. Click here for program details. Also of possible interest to students of the world’s religions: HUA has an excellent library with thousands of volumes including scriptures from Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. It also has the complete works of Mahatma Gandhi, the works of Swami Vivekananda and the writings of other religious leaders and social reformers. Its volumes include valuable collections such as the Charaka Samhita and Susruta Samhita (two of the oldest surviving ancient  texts). The library has rich collections on Sanskrit, Yoga and Ayurveda. Besides its volumes on Eastern religions and philosophy, it also has rich collection on Western philosophy. The library is open to the general public Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and access to the collections is free.

MLK Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith Service Jan 8MLK
On Sunday evening, January 8, the public is invited to join an array of religious and civic leaders at the Orlando City Hall (400 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801) for the kick-off event of the Martin Luther King, Jr., week of celebration leading up to the MLK holiday. There you’ll receive a commemorative T-shirt and glow-stick “candle” in preparation for a “candlelight” vigil and march, which will leave City Hall at 6:00 pm (so arrive earlier: 5:30 pm is recommended), proceeding to First Presbyterian Church of Orlando (106 East Church Street, Orlando, FL 32801), where the city’s annual MLK Interfaith and Multicultural Service will be conducted. This year’s event will highlight the words of Dr. King: “Finite Disappointment and Infinite Hope.” Sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and the City of Orlando Mayor’s Martin Luther King, Jr. 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.

‘Everybody’s Children’ Chorus to Perform at MLK Service
As part of the January 8 MLK Interfaith and Multicultural Service (see item above), program organizer Rabbi David Kay is reviving “Everybody’s Children,” a non-audition community chorus of middle-school and high-school youth. Everyone in that age range is welcome to participate, and no previous performance experience is necessary. There will be a one-hour orientation and rehearsal on the evening of Tuesday, December 27, at 7:00 pm at Congregation Ohev Shalom (613 Concourse Parkway South, Maitland FL). On the evening of the MLK program, there will be a quick rehearsal at First Presbyterian Church (106 East Church Street, Orlando, FL 32801) at 5:00 pm. The group’s one-song performance will be between 6:30 and 7:30 pm. “Everybody’s Children” will be singing the chorus on Melissa Etheridge’s song “Pulse” (click here to listen), and will help lead the audience in “We Shall Overcome” at the end of the program. Click here for more information or to sign up for “Everybody’s Children.” Also check out Facebook.

Education Secretary Pick Draws Religious-Liberty ConcernsDevos
From the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty website: “President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a leading advocate for school voucher initiatives across the country. Vouchers send taxpayer funds to support private education including religious education, raising concerns about DeVos’ appointment among religious-liberty watchdogs. . . . Critiquing DeVos’ selection, Americans United’s Maggie Garrett notes that not only do school vouchers undermine religious-freedom guarantees, they are also ‘terrible education policy.’ [Garrett says:] ‘Voucher programs have proven ineffective, lack accountability to taxpayers, and deprive students of rights provided to public school students.  They also divert desperately needed resources away from public schools, which serve all children, to fund the education of a few, select voucher students.’ . . .  For more on school vouchers, see the BJC’s Jennifer Hawks’ article, ‘School Vouchers Threaten Religious Autonomy.’”

Non-Profit Seeking Space to Help Fractured Families
TobyThe Toby Center—a non-profit whose state and national office is in Lake Wales, Florida, and whose mission is “to provide multiple services to parents journeying through separation and divorce in such a way as to reduce parent conflict and improve outcomes for children—is seeking a location in Greater Orlando that can offer a classroom or conference room to meet with children and parents requiring therapy and supervised visitation. In its six years of operation, The Toby Center has found that a neutral and comfortable location for initial client intake, interviews and visitation meetings is a successful means of helping to reunify family members when parents are separated and divorced. The need for space will be usually on Saturdays, and sometimes during the week in the late afternoon.  Please contact Dr. Mark Roseman by phone (855-862-9236, ext. 2) or email if you might have such space available. Visit The Toby Center website for more information about the organization.

Interfaith Discussion: Religion in Tax-Funded Schools
“According to your faith tradition’s teaching, what role should religion play in tax-funded education? If you feel the curriculum should include prayers and devotional readings from ‘sacred writings,’ should it be the scriptures and prayers of the majority religion that are used? Would your answer stay the same if a different religion became the majority? What about those students who aren’t members of the majority religion? Should they be forced to participate? Be sent from the classroom? Some other alternative?” These questions and more will be addressed at the monthly Interfaith Discussion on Wednesday evening, January 11, 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.

GladdeningLight Symposium to Feature Richard Rohr220px-RichardRohrOFM
GladdeningLight—a Winter Park-based nonprofit whose mission is to explore transcendent elements of art through hosted conferences, exhibits and public performance, cloistered retreat and pilgrimage—will host its annual symposium from Thursday, January 26, at 6:00 pm to Sunday, January 29, at 11:00 am. Featured  participants will include Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who’s a beloved teacher and lecturer around the world and the author of The Naked NowBreathing Under Water,Falling UpwardImmortal Diamond and, new this fall, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation. Father Rohr will be joined by Haitian surrealist painter Frantz Zephirin (whose works will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Albin Polasek Museum nearby) and the music trio Free Planet Radio, from Asheville, NC, (fresh off their national tour of mainland China). Click here for the event schedule, cost and registration information.

Want Answers for Your Questions About Islam?
Islamic Center of Orlando 2The Islamic Center of Orlando sponsors an “open house” at 6:30 pmevery 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.

Spring ‘Semester’ of Interfaith Series to Start Feb 13
The public is invited to a free one-hour, once-a-month series of presentations on different faith traditions, which is being held at 3:00 pm on the second Monday of each month at the Lake of the Woods Clubhouse (300 Carolwood Point, Fern Park, Casselberry). Titled “Parallel Beliefs—A Comparative Study,” the series is sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central of Central Florida and coordinated by several residents of the Lake of the Woods subdivision. At each session the speaker presents for half an hour, followed by half an hour of questions from the audience. The dates for the “spring semester” will be February 13, March 13, April 10 and May 8. The faith traditions tentatively planned for the spring series are Sikh, Native American, Baha’i and Jain. More definite information will be in the February Interfaith Council newsletter. For more information, phone 321-228-4599Click here for directions.

OCPS Looking to Decrease the Acheivement Gap
Orange County Public Schools, the City of Orlando, COMPACT and the Orlando Magic organization have accepted President Obama’s challenge to participate in the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. The challenge entails recruiting 500 male mentors for young males of color. Mentors should be responsible adults who care, listen and offer encouragement. Mentors are ordinary people who have one thing in common—a commitment to making the world a better place for our children and youth. President Barack Obama said that My Brother’s Keeper involves “helping more of our young people stay on track. Providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future. Building on what works—when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.” Click here to see the participating schools and to sign-up. For more information, phone the Minority Achievement Office at 407-317-3470Click here to learn about other volunteering opportunities at OCPS.

Summit on Relgious Freedom to Convene January 31My Brother's Keeper
“The Summit on Religious Freedom: An Interfaith Invitation” will be held Tuesday, January 31, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, at Faith Hall, First Baptist Orlando (3000 South John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL 32805). Speakers for the evening include: Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund; Rabbi Mark Goldfeder, Director, Law and Religious Programs, Emory University; Professor W. Cole Durham, Jr., Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University; Iman Abdulla Antepli, Chief Representative of Muslim Affairs, Duke University; and Mike Batts, Managing Partner, Batts Morrison Wales & Lee, PA. Issues  to be addressed include: potential impact of upcoming Supreme Court decisions on religious freedom; challenges posed by pending legislation to both freedom of speech and religion; impact of tax-law changes on religious organizations; barriers potentially faced when religions run their organizations based on their values. The event is free, but space is limited. Please reserve you seat at Eventbrite.

Clergy and Elected Officials Invited to Janulary 31 DinnerHannah Smith 2
As a prelude to “The Summit on Religious Freedom: An Interfaith Invitation” (see item above), faith leaders and elected officials are invited to a “Faith Leader and Government Representative Dinner and Dialog with the Experts,” from 5:00 to 6:30 pm at Faith Hall, First Baptist Orlando (3000 South  John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL 32805). Keynote speaker for this clergy-and-elected-official event is Hannah Smith, a lawyer with the Becket Fund, based in Washington D.C. Attorney Smith has argued prominent religious-freedom cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.  She has appeared on appeared numerous national television channels, has written for prominent publications and is a much-sought-after speaker. This dinner event is free, but space is limited to first 50 RSVPs. To reserve your space, please submit your RSVP as soon as possible by clicking here. “The Summit on Religious Freedom: An Interfaith Invitation” (see previous item) will begin at 7:00 pm in the same building. Faith leaders are urged to invite their faith community members to attend that event, which is designed for the general public.

February 1 to 7 Is World Interfaith Harmony Week
World Interfaith Harmony WeekThe first week of February is a time when supporters of interfaith harmony go the extra mile in seeking to remind “the choir,” the congregation and those in the street that it’s imperative for faith traditions to exemplify the highest ideals of our respective faith traditions. According to the WIHW website, “The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.” The U.N. resolution launching this week of interfaith-harmony emphasis . . .  “1. Reaffirms that mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace; 2. Proclaims the first week of February of every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs; 3. Encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week, based on love of God and love of one’s neighbour or on love of the good and love of one’s neighbour, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions; 4. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the General Assembly informed of the implementation of the present resolution.”

BJC Seeking Essays About Religion and Immigrationjefferson-for-essay-contest
High school juniors and seniors can win up to $2,000 for college in the 2017 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest by writing an essay exploring the use of religious tests as part of the United States’ immigration and refugee policies. Each year, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty invites high-school students to express a point of view on a religious-liberty topic. The grand prize is $2,000 and a trip for two to Washington, D.C. Second prize is $1,000, and third prize is $500. All high school students in the graduating classes of 2017 and 2018 are eligible. There are no requirements regarding faith, GPA, after-school activities or clubs. To enter, eligible students must write an essay between 800 and 1,200 words on the following topic: The United States, along with many other countries, gives safe haven to refugees of war-torn countries. Many factors are taken into account when determining who is allowed to enter our borders. During the 2016 presidential campaign, there was discussion around the idea of denying entrance to some immigrants and refugees based on their religion. Entries must be mailed to the Baptist Joint Committee and postmarked by March 10, 2017, to be eligible. Visit the BJC website for complete details and printable entry forms.

Local Rabbi Organizing 2017 Trip to Israel
rabbi-rick-headshotRabbi 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 in June 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, send an email to Rabbi Rick.

Your Tax-Deductible Contributions Always 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. To receive credit for the 2016 tax year, contributions should be postmarked no later than December 31. Thank you for your help.

Baha’i Faith PerspectivesBaha'i symbol
There is one God
All humanity is one family
Women and men are equal
All major religions come from God
Truth should be investigated independently
Science and religion are in harmony
The family and its unity are very important
World peace is the crying need of our time
Our economic problems are linked to spiritual problems
All prejudice—racial, religious, national or economic—
is destructive and must be overcome

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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/Betty Alter, Newsletter Production and AdministrationPlease 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 betty@buildingus.org.