December 2012


1. OCPS Seeking Assistance from Faith Community.  On December 4, Orange County Public Schools officially launched an Adopt-a-School program for faith-based organizations. Because faith-based entities have an existing infrastructure, they’re ideal for organizing student mentoring programs, life-skills education, after-school and summer recreation, academic assistance and much more. OCPS (the tenth largest school district in the United States), like many school systems throughout the nation, faces challenges because of social fragmentation. But superintendent Barbara M. Jenkins is determined to overcome the obstacles by cultivating “continuous community involvement in neighborhood schools.” While religious proselytizing in public schools is (appropriately) forbidden, faith-based organizations can play a highly positive role in a variety of areas, and their presence is both welcomed and sought. For more detail about how your group can become involved, go to

2. Lettermen Concerts to Raise Funds for Homeless Charities. St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park (526 Park Avenue North) will be the venue for two Lettermen concerts, on December 27 and 28, with the proceeds going to a variety of Central Florida charities that serve the homeless. The Thursday, December 27, concert will feature an array of Christmas music, both sacred and secular. The Friday night, December 28, concert will feature the style of music that has been synonymous with the Lettermen for decades. Both concerts begin at 7:00 pm. For further information and tickets go to

3. What Role Does Food Play in Your Faith Tradition? That’s the focus of the January 9 meeting of a long-running Interfaith Discussion Group whose monthly “conversations” are now being held at Adventist University of Health Sciences at Florida Hospital’s main campus. The free-of-charge, open-to-the-public discussions address a different subject each month. For further details and directions contact

4. MLK Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith and Multicultural Service. [Please note that in 2013 this highly appreciated community event is being hosted one week before the MLK holiday, due to conflicts with other downtown activities during the holiday weekend.] On Sunday evening, January 13, you’re invited to join an array of religious and civic leaders at the Orlando City Hall, where you’ll receive a commemorative T-shirt and glow stick. The “candlelight” vigil and march will leave City Hall at 6:00 pm, led by Mayor Buddy Dyer, and proceed to First United Methodist Church (142 East Jackson Street). There we’ll conduct the city’s annual Interfaith and Multicultural Service, featuring as speaker Dr. Larry G. Mills, pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. The theme for this year’s event is “Unarmed Truth and Unconditional Love.” Sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and the City of Orlando Mayor’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday 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.

5. “Religion 101” Series to Feature Sikhism on January 15. Are you interested in a quick overview of the teachings and practices of Orlando’s various faith traditions? The Holocaust Center and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida are partnering on a “Religion 101″ Series to make it easy and fun for the busy person to become more knowledgeable without a huge investment of time. This nine-segment, once-a-month, free-of-charge, open-to-the-public series features a one-hour presentation and half hour of Q & A. So far we’ve featured Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. On Tuesday, January 15, at 7:00 pm at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751), Jasbir Singh Bhatia, past president of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, will present an overview of Sikhism. For more detail about the series and for other Holocaust Center events, go to their website. Hinduism will be featured on February 12.

6. Catholic Diocese Sponsoring Interfaith Prayer Service. “God of Life: Lead Us to Justice and Peace” is the theme of this year’s Diocese-sponsored Interfaith Prayer Service, to be conducted at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 526 Park Avenue North in Winter Park, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm, on Thursday, January 17. A reception will immediately follow the service. Spiritual leaders from many of Orlando’s array of faith traditions will participate. The public is invited. For details and to RSVP, contact Alejandro Luciano: 407-246-4819;

7. World-Renowned Rabbi to Speak January 23. Scholar, theologian and prolific writer Rabbi Harold Kushner will speak to an interfaith audience at the Congregation of Reform Judaism on Wednesday, January 23, at 7:30 pm. The public is urged to take advantage of this opportunity to hear from a man whose personal experience has caused him to contemplate the problem of pain as few others have, leading to his bestselling book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. For more detail and to register for the January 23 event, go to

8. Knowing What to Say to the Sorrowing. In an article titled “Dealing With Grief: Five Things NOT to Say and Five Things to Say In a Trauma Involving Children,” the Reverend Emily C. Heath of the United Church of Christ provides some do’s and don’ts. The article, written in response to the school slayings in Connecticut, provides succinct and practical suggestions that are equally applicable in situations that are far less dramatic. Read it at

9. Prayer Service for Christian Unity. Christians of all denominations–and the general public–are invited to the annual Prayer Service for Christian Unity sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. The theme of this year’s service is “What Does God Require of Us?” The service will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 am on Friday, January 25, at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke, 130 Magnolia Avenue, in downtown Orlando. A reception will immediately follow the service. For further details and to RSVP, contact Alejandro Luciano: 407-246-4819;

10. Save the Date–November 9 and10–Kristallnacht Remembrance. Each year the Holocaust Center in Maitland invites the community to remember Kristallnacht–The Night of Broken Glass–which took place November 9 and 10, 1938 (and which many scholars identify as the beginning of Hitler’s Final Solution). But in 2013, the 75th anniversary of those two days of infamy, the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, the Bach Festival Society, Rollins College, the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation and an array of other Central Florida entities are joining forces with the Holocaust Center to forcefully remind our entire community of the need for eternal vigilance against bigotry and hate. The highlight of the weekend’s activities will be the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra’s performance of the oratorio “A Child of Our Time,” by British composer Michael Tippett (1905–1998). The work, first performed in 1944 in London, was inspired by events surrounding Kristallnacht, yet also addresses the plight of oppressed people in general, as evidenced by Tippett’s use of “negro spirituals” as a vehicle to convey parts of his message. You’ll be hearing about this community highlight in much more detail over the upcoming months. But mark you calendars now to ensure that no scheduling conflicts keep you away from this one-of-a-kind event.

11. “Witness” Presentations–75 of Them! Leading up to the major remembrance event for the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (described in the preceding item), the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and the Holocaust Center are teaming up in an effort to have 2012’s Kristallnacht Remembrance program–“Witness”–presented in 75 houses of worship, schools, civic organizations and other venues. “Witness” is a readers theater involving six readers who use the actual words of victims, perpetrators and onlookers to describe what went on during the tragic events associated with Kristallnacht. The readers’ words are accentuated by a simultaneous Power Point presentation of pictures and news headlines from that era. The Holocaust Center is making copies of the scripts and the Power Point available to groups willing to use their in-house talent to do the performance. Groups willing to present this simple-but-powerful snapshot of a sad chapter of history should contact Jim Coffin: 321-228-4599; Remember, we’re seeking 75 venues! So we need you!

12. “Friends Talking Faith.” Have you heard about the Christian, the Jew and the Muslim who walked into a radio station? No? Then let me tell you. The Reverend Bryan Fulwider, Rabbi Steve Engel and Imam Muhammad Musri began a once-a-month, one-hour radio show in April 2012. They call it “Friends Talking Faith.” The show looks at just about every facet of life from their varied faith perspectives. “The Three Wise Guys,” as they’ve lightheartedly dubbed themselves, have the ability to cut through the clutter and get right to the core of the issues they address. Listen to the them on WMFE 90.7 on the first Sunday of each month at 6:00 pm. Learn more about them and listen to archived broadcasts at