|MLK Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith Service Sunday, Jan 12On Sunday evening, January 12, the public is invited to join faith and civic leaders for the annual MLK Interfaith and Multicultural Service honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. The event will begin at 5:30 pm at the Orlando City Hall (400 South Orange Avenue, Orlando FL 32801), where everyone will receive a commemorative T-shirt and glow stick for the “candlelight” vigil. The vigil and march will leave City Hall 6:00 pm, proceeding to Shiloh Baptist Church of Orlando (640 West Jackson Street, Orlando, FL 32805), where the speaker for the service will be Fr. Rudi Cleare, Founder of the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation. The theme for this year’s event is “Dare to Love,” based on a challenge presented by MLK to all people everywhere. 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. King, the advances made and the challenges that still remain. Join members of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Baha’i, Unitarian Universalist and other faith and worldview communities in reaffirming Martin Luther King’s vision of equal value, equal opportunity and equal justice for all. Spread the word concerning this truly special celebration, reflection and learning opportunity. Click here for a list of MLK Celebrations in Central Florida during January.
PJI and WPPL Partner for Screening of Groundbreaking Film
On Sunday, January 12, Valencia College Peace and Justice Institute will partner with the Winter Park Public Library to bring to the public a free screening of the groundbreaking documentary Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope. The film explores both the impact of trauma and the hope of healing. As is revealed masterfully on the screen, toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children, putting them at greater risk for disease, homelessness, incarceration and early death. But a new horizon is emerging, as trailblazers in pediatrics, education and social welfare are using cutting-edge science and field-tested therapies to protect children from the Insidious effects of this type of stress. Click here to register. Watch a trailer of the film here. The film screening will be Sunday, January 12, from 2:00 to 4 pm at the Winter Park Community Center (721 West New England Avenue, Winter Park, Florida 32789).
Movie Just Mercy Now in Theaters, Just Waiting to Be Seen
Mark Elliott, Executive Director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP), is urging all who oppose the death penalty to see the movie Just Mercy. In reality, however, if you do support the death penalty, he’s probably even more insistent that you should see it. FADP is a non-profit and non-partisan statewide Florida organization of individuals and groups united to abolish the Death Penalty in Florida. Click here to find which local theaters will be showing the movie over the next few days. This long-awaited and highly acclaimed major motion picture is opening nationwide this weekend. The film, starring Jamie Lee Foxx, Brie Larson and Michael B. Jordan, is based on the true story and bestselling book, Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson.
Religious-Freedom Group Hosting Luncheon/Discussion
The Problem: Although we declare our nation to be the United States of America, conflict seems to be rapidly displacing unity. Traditional and social media fan the flames in ever-more-frequent skirmishes over individual and institutional rights. Instead of valuing and celebrating our diversity, we too often show a lack of respect toward those who believe, look, act, or speak out differently from our own affinity group. How can we avoid the verbal violence that dominates our communication and instead find ways to actually hear and understand each other? Working on a solution: The Central Florida Commission on Religious Freedom invites community and faith influencers who desire to bridge these divisions and protect the rights of all to join in a discussion to explore possible remedies for our current malady. Whatever your faith tradition or worldview, we urge you to join this discussion. The event will be held from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm on Wednesday, January 15, at Faith Hall, First Baptist Orlando (3000 South John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL 32805). This luncheon event is free, but an RSVP is required.
Americans Tell Religious Organizations: Stay out of Politics
From the Religion News Service website: “As Americans gear up for a long and bitterly contentious presidential election year, their message to religious leaders and institutions couldn’t be clearer: Keep out. . . . That’s the finding in the latest Pew Research poll, which found that 63% of Americans say churches and other houses of worship should stay out of politics, and 76% said religious congregations should not make political endorsements.” Although “Jews and the religiously unaffiliated are more likely than Christians to oppose mixing religion and politics. Even among Christians, however, 70% say churches and other houses of worship should not endorse candidates for political office, and more than half (54%) say churches should keep out of political matters.”
Catholics Conduct Service of Blessing for New Organ
“We have come together to bless this new organ, installed so the celebration of the liturgy may become more beautiful and solemn,” said Bishop John Noonan this past November 23, just before officially blessing the new Schoenstein pipe organ at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe (8300 Vineland Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32821). The basilica staff spent a little more than five years coordinating the organ’s purchase and installation of the 5,200 pipes, which arrived on June 3, 2019. The tallest pipes, reaching 37 feet high and 18 inches wide, are located in the front of the basilica on either side of the tabernacle. But installation was only part of the task. Plenty of fine-tuning had to be done as well. By November 23, the organ was ready for its official blessing, marking the “fulfillment of a dream” for those who invested time and talent to make it a reality. “The purpose of music in the liturgy is above all to give glory to God and to lead us to holiness,” Bishop Noonan said during the service of blessing. “We your people, joyously gathered in this basilica, wish to join our voices to the universal hymn of praise. So that our song may rise more worthily to your majesty, we present this organ for your blessing: grant that its music may lead us to express our prayer and praise in melodies that are pleasing to you.”
Documentary Released about Sikhism Founder Guru Nanak
Only a small percentage of people in the United States have heard of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, the world’s fifth-largest religion. But the recently released documentary Guru Nanak: The Founder of Sikhism, Life and Legacy aims to change that. The documentary will educate Americans about Guru Nanak and about his vision to create a more equal society. In addition, the documentary will show examples of Sikhs making a difference in the lives of many people here in America and other parts of the world by following the teachings of Guru Nanak! As a visionary, feminist, and innovator, Guru Nanak was a revolutionary leader who stood up for the rights of people on the fringes of society. Despite his vision and the relevance of his teachings, few Americans have heard of him. However, the film has been making the rounds of film festivals and was screened at the national press club in Washington, D.C. The documentary will air on PBS in early 2020
BJC Sponsoring Religious-Liberty Essay Competition
The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty is inviting high school juniors and seniors to enter the 2020 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest. This school year’s topic asks students to write an essay in the form of a letter to their state representative about bills mandating the posting of “In God We Trust” in public schools. Click here to get the rules for the competition. The contest is open to all high school students graduating in 2020 and 2021. Entries must be postmarked by March 6. The BJC is asking all who read this to tell juniors and seniors about this opportunity. Please pass this information along to students in your neighborhood, at your house of worship or wherever else you may interact with high school juniors and seniors.
Ten Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Atheists
If you’re a believer in a divine power or divine person and find meaning in that belief, have you ever wondered what gives atheists meaning in life? Or have you just assumed life must have little or no meaning for them? Whatever perceptions you hold about those who don’t believe in God or a god or gods, you might be surprised by the findings of a survey done by the Pew Research Center—which yielded at least “10 Facts About Atheists.” Click here to find out what those 10 facts are.
Hindu Temple to Host Interfaith Event Promoting Charity
An interfaith service will be held at the Sri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir (269 South Klondike Avenue, Orlando, FL 32811) on Sunday, January 19, at 5:00 pm. The public is invited. The purpose of the event is to: (1) celebrate an array of services already provided to the community as part of a 50 Acts of Kindness Project, (2) highlight the spiritual imperative found in all faiths to provide charity wherever need exists, (3) raise funds for future charitable endeavors and (4) provide a venue for interfaith interaction and friendship development. The event will begin at 5:00 pm with a panel representing various faith traditions who will briefly share their respective faith’s teaching about charity, followed by a time of questions and answers for the entire panel. The program will conclude with a vegetarian meal featuring both Indian and American cuisine. The event organizers are requesting a donation of $20 per person 12 years of age and older to raise funds for upcoming charitable activities being undertaken by the mandir (temple). No donation for the meal is requested for children below 12. The event is being coordinated by Dr. Shakti Persad, with assistance from the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. For further information, send an email with your questions.
Film Free Trip to Egypt Shows How Perceptions Can Change
Here’s the story behind the film: “Tarek Mounib, a Canadian-Egyptian entrepreneur living in Switzerland, is troubled by a world that seems ever more divided and polarized. In response to increasing levels of anger and hatred towards ‘the other’ on American social and broadcast media, he resolves to reach out to the very people who fear his culture, with an intriguing idea. . . . With the aim of trying to build mutual understanding, Tarek travels across the United States in order to find Americans who feel threatened by Islam and offer them a Free Trip to Egypt.” Eventually a highly diverse group is selected for the free trip. And the stories “that emerge from these improbable connections are provocative, surprising, funny, magical, emotional, revealing, enlightening, and ultimately life-changing. Free Trip to Egypt is a profoundly original and inspirational feature-length documentary that invites us to leave our baggage behind consider the world anew.” The film is scheduled to be screened at 4:30 pm on Tuesday, January 14, at the Hollywood Theater in the Port Orange Pavilion, 5547 South Williamson Blvd., Port Orange, FL 32127. Click here to reserve a ticket. Not sure you’re interested? Then check out the trailer to learn more. However, there’s one caveat: A certain number of tickets must sell as a prerequisite to the film being screen. If when you seek to purchase a ticket you discover that the screening in Port Orange has been cancelled, consider having your group sponsor a screening closer to home. Learn more on Facebook.
Clergy Breakfast and MLK Tribute at Rollins January 22
Rev. Katrina Jenkins, Dean of Religious Life at Rollins College, invites all clergy of all faiths to the Second Annual Clergy Breakfast on Wednesday, January 22, at 9:00 am at the Rice Family Pavilion on the Rollins campus (1000 Holt Avenue , Winter Park, FL 32789). Enjoy a continental breakfast and join in walking the labyrinth in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his legacy. Please park in the SunTrust Garage (131 East Comstock Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789). Tickets will be validated upon arrival. RSVP to the Reverend Katrina Jenkins by email by January 14. For questions or concerns, phone her at 407-646-2440.
Universal to Again Host ‘Rock the Universe’ Christian Concert
Christians—and particularly those who love contemporary Christian music—will be delighted by the exceptionally talented lineup for Rock the Universe 2020, which will be held at Universal on Friday and Saturday, January 24 and 25. Performers on Friday include: Switchfoot, Newboys United, Tenth Avenue North, Tauren Wells, Tedashii and The Afters. Saturday’s performers include: Chris Tomlin, TobyMac, Bethel Music, We Are Messengers, Unspoken and I Am They. Go to the website of Rock the Universe for much more information, including details of special packages for perks for individuals, groups and group leaders. Click here to reserve your tickets for Rock the Universe 2020. Click here for Dropbox link for Rock the Universe logos and images that you are welcome to use on your website, social media or print. Also, here is a Dropbox link which has an adaptable version of the RTU 2020 poster where you can add your organization’s info. Digital copies of poster and brochure also included so you can email those items to the youth and their parents. To have questions answered, reach out to the Rock the Universe team at 1-800-Youth15, ext. 3.
Holocaust Center to Host Holocaust Remembrance Day Event
The Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751) invites the community to an event that will run from 6:00 to 7:00 pm on Monday, January 27, to honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time designated to remember the six million Jews and millions of others who fell victim to Nazi persecution. January 27 was chosen by the United Nations in recognition of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, and this year, marks the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. It’s a time to also remember the ordinary people who courageously and heroically demonstrated the very best of humanity’s capacity for compassion and justice by risking their own lives to save their fellow humans. They demonstrated that even in the midst of evil, human beings can perform remarkable acts of decency and dignity. One such person, whose experience will be featured at the event, is Gilbert Waganheim—a Jewish liberator. The program will pay tribute to the millions of lives lost, through a candle lighting and a commemorative reading of the names of concentration camps, dates of liberation, and a powerful words of inspiration from historical Liberators. The program is free and the public is invited. Click here to RSVP.
Christian Service Center Seeking Help for ‘Souper Sunday’
Throughout January, sports fans spend hours stuffing their faces with snacks and beverage as they watch a glut of football that includes the college bowl series and the NFL playoffs. What too few stop to consider is that while they’re snacking, thousands of people in Central Florida won’t have even a can of soup to eat! That’s where the public can get involved in an annual event the Christian Service Center hosts called “Souper Sunday.” The process is simple: Individuals and groups are invited to collect nonperishable food items and basic hygiene products throughout January, delivering them to one of the Christian Service Center facilities by Sunday, February, 2 (which is also Super Bowl Sunday.) Last year, the Service Center received more than 20,000 food items! They hope to exceed that number in 2020. Click here to learn how to become involved.
Interfaith Speakers to Discuss Love as Taught by Their Faith
“Language of Love: Healthy Ways of Communicating Love In My Faith Tradition” is the title of an interfaith program to be presented at the Stover Center at Westminster Winter Park (1111 South Lakemont Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32792) at 7:00 pm on Monday, February 3. Representatives from the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faith traditions will briefly tell how their faith encourages love—for family members, for those within their community of faith, for those outside their community of faith and even for those outside their nation. The program is hosted by the Chaplain’s Office at Westminster Winter Park and the speakers are scheduled by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. Following the presentations the audience will have opportunity to ask questions. The event is free and the public is invited.
World Council of Churches Reformats Its Interfaith Journal
Current Dialogue, the long-standing journal the World Council of Churches on interreligious relations, is now available online and as a print issue in a new format. Recognizing the indispensability of interreligious dialogue amidst changing religious realities, the journal seeks to offer space for stimulating and sustained reflections on a wide range of interreligious issues. The latest issue of Current Dialogue focuses on the theme “In Honesty and Hope: Rethinking Interreligious Engagement for our Times” and opens with an article by interfaith scholar and former WCC deputy general secretary Wesley Ariarajah on the history of the WCC’s involvement in interreligious dialogue. Other authors offer reflections on rethinking interreligious engagement from diverse perspectives.More information about Current Dialogue is available here.
Friends of the Wekiva River to Screen Film about Springs
The public is invited to a free screening of the hour-long film Hidden Secrets of Florida Springs, an Equinox Documentaries production that explores the mysteries and beauties of Florida’s springs while bringing to light an array of more treacherous “secrets” that show how the flow of our state’s major springs has been steadily declining over the past 50 years. The screening is sponsored by Friends of the Wekiva River and will take place on Thursday, February 6, at 7:30 pm in the community room of the Markham Woods Church of Seventh-day Adventists (505 Markham Woods Road, Longwood, FL 32779). Documentary film maker Bob Giguere will introduce the film. Click here to see an extended trailer and here to learn more about the making of the film.
Theme for GladdeningLight Syposium 2020: ‘Wild Surrender’
Three paragons of inter-spirituality—Mirabai Starr, Rabbi Rami Shapiro and Barbara Brown Taylor—joined by cellist Eugene Friesen and a cappella singers Owen & Moley Ó Súilleabháin, will be featured during the GladdeningLight Symposium 2020. The event, a weekend of lectures, aesthetics and “wild surrender,” will be held February 6-9 at Rollins College (1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789). Click here to learn more about each participant, the event details and the cost. Just a handful of sets remain, so respond quickly. GladdeningLight (1350 College Point Winter Park, FL 32789) 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.
Interfaith Discussion to Be Held at AdventHealth University
On Wednesday, February 12, the monthly Interfaith Discussion sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida will be held from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at AdventHealth University (671 Winyah Drive, Orlando, FL 32803), which is on AdventHealth’s main Orlando campus. The title of the evening’s discussion is: “Does prayer change God or me? What does your faith tradition or philosophy of life teach about prayer? The monthly 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, click here. Admission is free. Everyone is invited. For more information, phone 321-228-4599.
Summit on Religious Freedom to Feature Peace Building
“Building Peace in a Conflicted Society” is the theme for the Annual Summit on Religious Freedom presented by the Central Florida Commission on Religious Freedom and hosted by First Baptist Orlando. The event will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 pm on Thursday, October 27, at Faith Hall, First Baptist Orlando, 3000 South John Young Parkway, Orlando Florida 23805. “Conflict seems to be rapidly displacing unity in our society,” say the summit organizers. “Instead of valuing and celebrating our diversity, we too often show a lack of respect toward those who believe, look, act, or speak out differently from groups we identify with.” So what can we do to become a peace Builder? Learn and practice the principles of conflict resolution with internationally recognized expert Rev. Dr. Gary Mason. Dr. Mason is the founder of Rethinking Conflict, a UK-based nonprofit working in the field of conflict transformation, peace building and reconciliation. Dr. Mason’s three decades of experience in the Northern Ireland peace process are part of a career committed to the reconciliation and urban redevelopment in West Belfast, which brought together Catholics and Protestants during turbulent years. Mark your calendars now. The public is invited, and the event is free, but an RSVP is required. More detail will be included in the February issue of this newsletter.
Ginsburg Family Foundation Again Offering Matching Grant
If you appreciate what’s being achieved by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, you have an opportunity to make your contributions achieve twice as much as we start a new year. The Ginsburg Family Foundation once again will give one dollar for every dollar someone else gives up to a maximum that hasn’t yet been set for 2020. So we ask all our supporters to make their contributions go further by taking advantage of this act of generosity from a family whose help we’ve appreciated greatly. Contributions are tax-deductible and may be sent to: Interfaith Council of Central Florida, PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310. Thank you for your help.
“A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return.”