|Faith Groups Speak Out Strongly about Immigration Policies The Trump administration’s policy of separating families at our southern border has elicited strong reactions from faith traditions across the spectrum. Such responses came from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Catholic bishops, an array of Jewish organizations, the Reclaiming Jesus initiative, the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and many other faith entities—whether local, state or national.
U.S. Conference of Mayors Calls for Caution Re Nukes The U.S. Conference of Mayors, at the close of its recent 86th Annual Meeting, unanimously adopted a sweeping resolution “calling on the [Trump] administration and Congress to step back from the brink and exercise global leadership in preventing nuclear war.” The resolution notes that tensions between the United States and Russia “have risen to levels not seen since the Cold War,” and warns that “this is only one of many nuclear flashpoints, from the Korean Peninsula to the South China Sea to the Middle East and South Asia, where all of the nuclear-armed states are engaged in unpredictable conflicts that could catastrophically escalate out of control.” Finally, “the USCM calls on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first; ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack; taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; cancelling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons; and actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.”
Christian Clergy Group Calls for ‘Reclaiming Jesus’Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners and author of the book America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, has collaborated with a diverse group of Christian clergy to challenge U.S. Christians with Reclaiming Jesus. It’s the contention of these faith leaders that the social responsibility that lies at the core of Jesus’ teaching has been woefully neglected if not lost sight of altogether. In an effort to bring balance and remain faithful to the entire message of Jesus, these leaders have drafted a document/manifesto called Reclaiming Jesus. Wallis argues that “Scripture is authoritatively clear on the obligation for Christians to treat ‘strangers’ as we would treat Christ himself; to love our neighbors as ourselves, especially those different from us; and to take special care of vulnerable children. That a recent poll shows that white evangelicals are the least likely of any group to support the United States receiving refugees is a tragic reflection of how far from the teachings of Jesus so many white evangelical Christians have strayed. . . . Let’s call out these ungodly events happening every week, many emanating from the White House, with the silence and complicity of white evangelical religious leaders. It is clearly time to reclaim Jesus, in the midst of those who are attempting to co-opt Jesus for political gain.”
Holcaust Center Hosting ‘Deadly Medicine’ Exhibit
From 1933 to 1945, Nazi Germany carried out a campaign to “cleanse” German society of people viewed as biological threats to the nation’s “health.” Enlisting the help of physicians and medically trained geneticists, psychiatrists and anthropologists, the Nazis developed racial health policies that started with the mass sterilization of “hereditarily diseased” persons and ended with the near annihilation of European Jewry. The exhibit “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race” will be on loan from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It will be at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751) until August 31. The exhibit traces the history of the early 20th-century international eugenics movement to the Nazi regime’s “science of race.” It also challenges viewers to reflect on the present-day interest in genetic manipulation that promotes the possibility of human perfection. Click here for Holocaust Center’s exhibit hours. And click here to learn more about the exhibit. (Photo above courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
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. Programs in July are:
- July 3: Faith and Politics: Patriotism and Freedom
- July 10: Faith and Society: Felons and Voting Rights in Florida
- July 17: Faith and Religion: Enemy of State or Faithful Cleric?
- July 24: Faith and Justice: Lynchings In America
- July 31: Faith and the Constitution: The Second Amendment
Ohev Shalom: ‘Immigrant Experiences: Then and Now’
In response to current events related to immigration, the Holocaust Center is partnering with the Hope CommUnity Center, the Jewish Community Center and Congregation Ohev Shalom to present a discussion designed to give insight into the immigrant experience. What compelled Holocaust Survivors and others to immigrate to America? What is the American dream? How would these families and individuals have been impacted if they had not built a new life in America? What would America look like without them? The public is invited to hear these questions and more explored during an event at Congregation Ohev Shalom (613 Concourse Pkwy South, Maitland, FL 32751) on Tuesday, July 10, at 6:00 pm. Click here to email questions for the panelists in advance of the event.
JCC Finishing Its ‘Hot Talks’ Summer Series July 11
The Roth Family Jewish Community Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751) is inviting JCC members and people from the community to take advantage of its “Hot Talks” summer evening lecture series. The lectures, presented by members of the local Orlando community, broadly encompass the idea of being a “hero.” On Wednesday, July 11, Gal Sarid from UCF’s Florida Space Institute will present a lecture titled “The Physics of Superheroes.” Admission is free for JCC members and $5.00 for the general public. To learn more and to register, click here. The program will run from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Interfaith Discussion: Your Faith’s View of Nationalism
In varying degrees, religions have an “other-worldly” focus. Many believe there’s a spiritual dimension that transcends our temporal-material world but that has implications for how we should set our earthly priorities. Also, many religions as well as secular philosophies believe in the dignity and value of all humans, irrespective of ethnicity or national identity. Such beliefs may impact the degree to which a person of faith will be nationalistic or even patriotic. What does your faith tradition teach about how much our emphasis should be on our global citizenship or our universal citizenship as opposed to our national citizenship? In what ways is your faith tradition supportive of nationalism? In what ways might it seek to de-emphasize nationalism? If your faith tradition de-emphasizes nationalism, what is the practical impact on acceptance within the community? These are just some of the questions about nationalism that will be addressed when the Interfaith Discussion group, sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, meets on Wednesday, July 11. Interfaith Discussions are 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, click here. Admission is free. Everyone is invited.
OCPS Can Help You by Having You Help Them
In Jewish Rabbinic teachings, the rationale for doing acts of kindness for those in need isn’t just to benefit the recipients. The act of giving also meets a spiritual need within the givers. So no one can do an act of kindness without the resultant blessing going in more than one direction. In the context of that little “sermon,” it seems appropriate to remind some and inform others that Orange County Public Schools, with its extreme diversity and many challenges, has a great need for tutors, mentors and others in assisting roles in which people from the community help students—and entire schools—achieve excellence. And it’s especially helpful to OCPS when an already-existing community organization does all the coordinating within its own infrastructure. Faith-based organizations already have just such an infrastructure. Learn how your house of worship or your community organization can “adopt a school.” Click here for more information. Access the OCPS Facebook page here.
Interfaith Council Exec Comm Members Voice Opinions
Based on their opinion-piece writing over the past few weeks, one could get the idea that members of the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida feel that they have something to say and that they aren’t hesitant about saying it. In an article printed in the Orlando Sentinel titled “Bullying the NFL into banning ‘knee’ protest is no win for America,” the Rev. Bryan Fulwider, chair of the Interfaith Council Executive Committee, argues that the right to protest is neither un-American nor anti-patriotic. In fact, it’s a right and a duty—both civic and religious. In another article titled “Love or detest Sarah Huckabee Sanders, we should serve her,” also in the Orlando Sentinel, Rev. Fulwider argues that businesses should serve the public. All the public. And that includes gays seeking to buy a wedding cake as well as President Donald J. Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders seeking a meal. Whether we like them or approve of their behavior shouldn’t determine whether or not we serve them. In an article titled “Gay wedding cake case, and others, make Christianity look bad,” Pastor James Coffin, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council, argues that, however sincere the motive, it makes Christianity look bad as a religion when Christian business owners refuse to serve would-be clients based on the Christian businessperson’s moral disdain for the would-be clients’ behavior and values. Finally, Executive Committee member Robert J. Ray, in an article titled “Some of the scriptures Jeff Sessions failed to quote,” which is posted on the Interfaith Council website, argues that while the U.S. Attorney General is correct in claiming that Romans chapter 13 calls for obeying the law, Mr. Sessions might not be quite so ready to quote scripture if he were to read the spectrum of biblical comments about government and, more specifically, what Jesus said should be done to those who mistreat children.
Wellness Recovery Action Plan to Host WRAP Workshop
The Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP) is hosting a free Introduction to WRAP Workshop on Thursday and Friday, July 19-20, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm each day. The workshop will be facilitated by Emily Ferlo and Yasmin Flasterstein and is sponsored by the Mental Health Association of Central Florida and the Orlando United Assistance Center. In this workshop, participants will be given all the tools needed to create their own action plan, and will be prepared to share the principles of WRAP with others in everyday life. WRAP is an evidence-based system that is used world-wide by people who are dealing with mental health, by substance abuse, by other kinds of health challenges, and by people who want to attain the highest possible level of wellness. It was developed by a group of people who have a lived experience of mental health difficulties—people who were searching for ways to resolve issues that had been troubling them for a long time. WRAP is also increasingly used by family members of persons with mental health difficulties. The workshop will be held at 320 North Ferncreek Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803. Get more information by phone (407-898-0110) or by email.
A Gift for Teaching Turns 20, Reflects and Looks Ahead
The nonprofit A Gift for Teaching is turning 20, so it’s a good time to both look back and look forward. With the help of “incredible supporters,” A Gift For Teaching reports that it has been able to distribute nearly $120 million worth of school supplies to teachers for their students. This represents millions of learning opportunities that students in Central Florida might not have had otherwise, as well as millions of dollars that teachers were not forced to spend out of their own pockets during the 300,000 shopping visits to our Free Stores, Pencil Boy Express, the Mobile Free Store and Pencil Boy Online. In addition to meeting teachers’ routine classroom needs, the Central Florida community was tested last fall as it welcomed thousands of displaced families from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Many donors stepped up with overwhelming support that allowed the nonprofit to respond immediately with millions of dollars’ worth of new backpacks, supplies, clothing and household items, adding another element to the ways in which the organization serves as Central Florida’s primary provider of school supplies and more—all year-round. Click here to learn more about the organization and how to become involved.
Peace and Justice Institute Reformats Publication
Valencia College’s Peace and Justice Institute has changed the style of its twice-yearly publication to a magazine format, renaming it the Peace and Justice Institute Journal. “The name Journal has a double meaning for PJI,” said Patti Ambinder, Advisory Council Chair, and Rachel Allen, Director, in a recent email describing the change. “A journal is an important tool for many reflective practitioners as it supports mindfulness and emotional intelligence. Likewise, journal denotes an academic journal in which scholarship is published. As PJI moves in the direction of research, the journal provides a venue to impart knowledge and lessons learned to the larger field of community building, peace, and justice studies throughout the globe.” The first issue of the publication in its new format contains features about the 1920 Ocoee Massacre, a review of PJI’s activities in the spring term just past, an article on the realities of voter suppression, and much more. Click here to access the entire issue.
Learn about Goodwill at Open House on July 19
Surprisingly often, residents—and even leaders—in a community simply don’t know about the range of services available for those in need. Goodwill is seeking to correct that lack of knowledge by hosting an open house on Thursday, July 19, from 8:30 to 9:30 am at its facility at 7531 South Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando FL 32809 (next to Sonny’s). Light refreshments will be provided. The RSVP deadline is Wednesday, July 18. For more information send an email with your questions.
Interfaith Council Executive Director to Speak at UUUS
Pastor James Coffin, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, will speak at University Unitarian Universalist Society on Sunday, July 22, at 10:30 am. He will highlight the role of some of his distant relatives in the 19th- and 20th-century advocacy of such socially progressive causes as the abolition of slavery, the Underground Railroad, women’s rights, the anti-war movement and more. Levi Coffin, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Phebe Ann Coffin Hanaford, William Sloane Coffin and James Coffin all descended from the same forebear, Tristram Coffin, who immigrated to Massachusetts from England in 1642. Early on, many of the Coffins became Quakers, and generations later that Quaker heritage was still making its influence felt, supported by the social-justice commitment of Unitarians, Universalists and other relatively small groups who’ve had an outsized impact on U.S. society. The public is invited. Should you choose to come to UUUS that day, why not double the benefit by coming at 9:00 am for the Inquiring Minds class? 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. Check it out. If not July 22, then some other time.
Shepherd’s Hope Offering Back-to-School Physicals
From July 24 to August 1, Shepherd’s Hope, in partnership with Nemours Children’s Health System, is hosting its fifth annual Back-to-School Physicals initiative for local uninsured children. Funding to support this initiative is being provided by a grant from the Harper Family Charitable Foundation, which provides for the health, education, maintenance and wellbeing of disabled children and adults of all ages in the Central Florida area. The free back-to-school physicals will include general health assessments and sports physicals (minus immunizations) with a Nemours specialist, as well as vision and hearing screenings at select locations. In addition, mammogram screenings will be available for women accompanying their children at the Longwood Shepherd’s Hope Health Center location on July 30 in conjunction with the Florida Hospital for Women Mobile Wellness Coach. Appointments for the student physicals can be made for all service locations by calling 407-876-6699, ext. 243. Physicals will be provided at:
- Longwood Shepherd’s Hope Health Center, (Sharing Center Plaza, 600 North US 17-92, Longwood) July 26 from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, July 30 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm and August 1 from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon;
- Dr. Diebel, Jr., Memorial Shepherd’s Hope Health Center (Samaritan Resource Center, 9833 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32817) July 24 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.
- Downtown Shepherd’s Hope Health Center (Orange County Medical Clinic,101 South Westmoreland Drive, Orlando, FL 32805) July 31 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.
- Ocoee Shepherd’s Hope Health Center (Vista Clinical Diagnostics, 10101 West Colonial Drive, Ocoee, FL 34761) July 25 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.
To qualify, children must be under age 18 and uninsured. The required Florida Department of Health 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. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. Click here for more information and to ask about other services that might be available. Florida ranks 47th in the nation for the highest percentage of uninsured children, with an estimated 27,000 uninsured children living in Central Florida. For their families, back to school physicals are a luxury most simply cannot afford.
Visiting Buddhist to Present Dharma Talk on 6 Sense Organs
Venerable Jue Huang, currently serving as director of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Center in St. Louis, Missouri, will present a Dharma Talk at Guang Ming Temple (6555 Hoffner Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32822) on Thursday, July 26, at 7:30 pm, in which she will address Buddhist practice as it relates to the six sense organs. Originally from Taiwan, Venerable Jue Huang graduated from the De La Salle University in the Philippines, with a Bachelor’s degree in political science, later earning a Master’s degree in political science from Fo Guang University in Taiwan. She renounced worldly life in 1999 and was ordained as a bikkhuni in the year 2000 at Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Taiwan. As a result of both academic training and religious practice, Venerable Jue Huang has acquired knowledge and experiences in the field of Buddhist feminism, fundamental Buddhist theory, meditative skills, Buddhist chanting skills and humanistic (pragmatic) Buddhism. The event is free and open to the public. More information is available by phone (407-281-8482) or by email.
Citizen’s Climate Lobby Urges Proper Earth Stewardship
Most faith traditions teach that humans are stewards of God’s creation. Faith communities now have a helpful resource in the form of an organization called Citizens’ Climate Lobby, an international organization working to get governments at every level to adopt proposals to reduce the use of fossil fuel. An array of scientists, economists, military specialists, social-justice advocates and religious leaders warn of the negative impacts of climate change and the need for us to speak out and step up to accept this challenge. Everyone is invited to attend meetings of Citizens’ Climate Lobby in Seminole, Orange and Brevard counties to learn what practical things we can all do to be more environmentally responsible. Or you can arrange for a presentation to be made at your house of worship. Phone 407-365-7710 for information.
Have Your Questions about Islam Answered by Muslims
Here are two options to learn more about Islam: (1) The Islamic Center of Orlando is providing an opportunity at 6:30 pm every Wednesday night for the public to have their questions answered about the Islamic faith. 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) On the fourth Saturday of every month, the Center for Peace at the Islamic Society of Central Florida hosts an “Open House Invitational” at which you can learn about Islam and the Muslim community—again, from 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 in 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 at Eventbrite.
Your Tax-Deductible Contributions 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.
“A thankful person is thankful under all circumstances. A complaining soul complains even in paradise.”― Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Baha’i faith.