December 2016

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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. The final two of a five-show series on the Pulse Nightclub tragedy will be featured on December 5 and 12. Guests for the series include those who were in the club that night, friends and family members of victims, religious and civic leaders, physicians and others. As Central Florida begins the healing process, these voices of pain, sadness, hope and strength will help us thoughtfully and sensitively begin to deal with the trauma and find our way forward as community. Tune in for this amazing and inspiring journey, focused on peace, hope and love.

  • December 5Pulse: Conversations From the Heart (Show 4 of 5)
  • December 12Pulse: Conversations From the Heart (Show 5 of 5)
  • December 19 and 26: To be announced December 12

Center for Peace to Host 5-K Run December 10 
centerforpeaceAre you a supporter of civil rights? Do you oppose stereotyping, bigotry and hate? Do you want to help eliminate domestic violence? Are you appalled by human trafficking? Then the 5-K Run for Peace being being hosted on December 10 by the Center for Peace at the Islamic Society of Central Florida may be just the activity for you. It combines fun for all ages, physical activity and fundraising for socially beneficially causes. If you cannot run, feel free to walk, crawl or tippy-toe to support a great cause! The event will be held on the Orlando Campus of Nova University (4850 Millenia Blvd, Orlando, FL 32839) from 8:00 to 11:00 am. Go to Eventbrite for more information and to register.

Islamic Center of Orlando to Host Community BBQislamic-center-orlando2
The Islamic Center of Orlando (11543 Ruby Lake Road, Orlando FL 34786) is hosting an interfaith barbecue on Saturday, December 10, from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. The entire community is invited to this family-oriented, let’s-get-better-acquainted event. The Islamic Center of Orlando urges all to extend this invitation to neighbors, coworkers, congregations—everyone. The event’s goal is to build good relationships, stronger friendships and a better community by inviting those of all faiths and no faith to come together to “break bread” and interact socially. Please RSVP no later than Friday, December 9, either by email or by phone (407-285-7790).

HOPE Helps is Seeking Thrift Store Volunteers Now 
boutiquelargeThe HOPE Chest Thrift/Boutique Store (1802 West Broadway, Oviedo, FL 32765), an outreach of HOPE Helps, Inc., has an immediate need for volunteers Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm to help sort donations and organize, clean and stage items. If you are an organized person by nature and enjoy thrift shops, garage sales and vintage items, this may be the job for you! Click here to view all of HOPE’s Volunteer opportunities

First Unitarian to Host Service of Remembrance and Hope
1st UnitarianFirst Unitarian Church of Orlando (1901 East Robinson Street, Orlando, FL 32803) will host a “Blue Holiday Service” at 4:00 pm on Sunday, December 11, a day before the six-month anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Those of every faith and no faith are invited to attend. While the holiday season can be joyous, many also find the   expectations, the hectic round of activity and sad memories of the year gone by to be overwhelming. This year, in addition to our individual losses, we also acknowledge our communal loss. The service is designed to provide a sense of welcome, trust and understanding in what for some may be a very painful time of the year. A simple reception in the fellowship hall will follow the 30-minute service in the sanctuary. Get further information by email or by phone (407-898-3621).

City of Orlando Working to Purchase the Pulse SitePulse
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says in his blogthat the city of Orlando is planning to purchase the Pulse nightclub. He states: “The Pulse nightclub is the site of the most tragic event that has ever occurred in the history of the City of Orlando. It has great significance, not just for the LGBTQ community and the Hispanic community, but also for all of us who live in and love Orlando. I believe it is important that our community is a part of determining the future of the Pulse site. To start this process, the City of Orlando has entered into a contract to purchase the land on South Orange Avenue.” Those wishing to regularly hear “straight from the horse’s mouth” what’s happening in Orlando might wish to sign up for the mayor’s email newsletter.

Interfaith Series Continuing in Casselberry on Dec 12
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). The series is titled: “Parallel Beliefs—A Comparative Study.” At each session the speaker presents for half an hour, followed by half an hour of questions from the audience. The “fall semester” of the series will conclude on December 12, with a presentation on Humanism/Atheism. Presenters David and Jocelyn Williamson are active in the Central Florida Freethought Community and the Florida Humanist Association. Dates for the “spring semester” will be February 13, March 13, April 10 and May 8. For more information, phone 321-228-4599Click here for directions

Hindu University to Host Workshop on Lord Shiva
Lord ShivaHindu University of America (5200 Vineland Road, Suite 120, Orlando, FL 32811) will host a two-evening workshop from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on December 12 and 13. The workshop, titled “Shiv Darshana: A Meditative Study of Lord Shiva,” will be held in the Oxford Room at HUA. The event is open and free to the public. An RSVP must be received by email or phone (407-275-0013) by December 5.

Lecture Series to Feature ‘Turkey: Democracy in Peril’Atlantic Institute
As part of the Atlantic Lecture Series sponsored by the Atlantic InstituteJames C. Harrington, a human-rights attorney who has written widely about Turkey, will discuss Turkey’s downspin from the days it looked as if the country would be a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Harrington will also speak about the attempted coup in July and its effect on providing justification for President Erdoğan’s increasing authoritarianism and its impact on United States relations. The presentation will be held at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, December 13, at the Institute’s headquarters at 940 South Winter Park Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707. Click here to register for this free event.

Interfaith Event to Highlight Faith-Based Holidays
Residents at Westminster Winter Park (1111 South Lakemont Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32792) and the public are invited to join resident Chaplain Jeff Parkkila and James Coffin, executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, on Wednesday, December 14, at 2:30 pm for a conversation with five representatives from five faith traditions on the topic “”The Most Significant Holy Days/Holidays of My Faith Tradition, How We Celebrate Them, and What They Mean to Us.” The speakers—representing Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism—will describe their prime religious holidays, outline the significance of the celebrations and describe the rituals and activities associated with them. The presentations will be followed by audience questions. Invite your friends to join you for this diverse and informative exchange. Phone 407-647-4083, ext 109 or send an email for more information. The event will be held in Westminster Winter Park’s Stover Center.

The Chaplaincy Institute Offering Interfaith Options
ChaplaincyAre you interested in training that can lead to credentialing that will assist in your desire to engage in interfaith ministry? Then you might want to check out the options at The Chaplaincy Institute. For a brief outline of the study tracks offered, click here.

Interfaith Discussion to Look at Faith-Based Rituals
What are the prime rituals in your faith tradition?” Are the rituals primarily religious or cultural in nature? Or a blend of both? Are they done primarily to satisfy God or to benefit those who engage? What do the rituals mean to you as an adherent? These questions and more will be addressed at the monthly Interfaith Discussion on Wednesday evening, December 14, 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.

December is the Big Month for ChristiansChristmas
Easter is huge in Christian theology, but Christmasevokes the more festive mood and creates more opportunity for celebration–which tends to span much of the month of December. For non-Christians who would like to visit a Christian church to see what it’s like, Christmas is a time of great pageantry, drama, music and grandeur in general. It’s also a time when it’s easy to participate anonymously, because attendance at events is far higher than usual. A great attraction for children is the living nativity scenes that portray the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. One such living nativity–which features the telling of the Christmas story, carols and live animals–will be at Winter Park Presbyterian Church (400 South Lakemont Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32792) at 7:00, 7:30, 8:00 and 8:30 pm on both Friday and Saturday evenings, December 16 and 17. Also featured at Winter Park Presbyterian as part of its Christmas repertoire is its annual “The Longest Night” service, scheduled for Wednesday, December 21, at 7:00 pm. The service provides a time of quiet reflection, special music, healing prayer and candlelight for those experiencing loneliness, loss because of the death of a loved one, relationship problems, job insecurities, health concerns or even general weariness (perhaps from all the holiday preparations!). All are welcome. For more detail phone 407-647-1467.

Interested in Free Online Course on Early Quakers?
Ben Pink Dandelion, professor at Woodbrooke Quaker Center in England, is offering a free course online: “Radical Spirituality: the Early History of the Quakers.” The Course is being offered intermittently (when enough students have expressed an interest). For more information and to register your interest, click here.

Paper or Plastic? For Better Earthcare, How About Neither?
plastic bagsDid you know that only 12 percent of plastic bags and 37 percent of paper bags are reused or recycled? Here’s a statistic of interest: A reusable shopping bag needs to be used only 11 times to have a lower environmental impact than 11 disposable plastic bags. Read DEP’s Retail Bags Report to learn more about how disposable bags impact on the environment and ways this can be changed. You might also take a moment to read about the Five R’s—Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle.

MLK Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith Service Jan 8mlk_photo
On Sunday evening, January 8, the public is 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 “candle.” The “candlelight” vigil and march will leave City Hall at 6:00 pm (so arrive earlier), proceeding to First Presbyterian Church (106 East Church Street, Orlando, FL 32801). There we’ll conduct the city’s annual MLK Interfaith and Multicultural Service. 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.

Hindu University Offering Three New Certificate Courses
Hindu University of AmHindu University of America (5200 Vineland Road, Suite 120, Orlando, FL 32811) has announced that it’s offering three new certificate courses: Gandhian Conflict Resolution; Religion, Conflict and Peace; and Yoga and Peace. Click here to view a detailed outline of the courses. To register for a course, click here. Submit any questions by email. “Hindu University of America (HUA) was established in 1989 to provide students of North America with a unique academic environment to explore the many aspects encompassing human existence, derived from the system of knowledge and practices popularly known as Hinduism—Hindu thought, tradition and culture. . . . HUA welcomes all qualified students seeking to learn about Hinduism from highly qualified faculty who specialize in many different areas of studies. Those who already have exposure to Hinduism through their own heritage will find the university to be an excellent source to get an enhanced understanding of their own identity, and newcomers will find a thorough and accessible introduction to a seemingly esoteric way religion.”

Pew Research Center Looks at U.S. Religion Demographics
From the Pew Research Center website: “As of 2014, there were roughly 245 million adults in the United States, including 173 million Christians and 56 million people without a religious affiliation. But what if we looked at this big picture a little differently? What if we imagined the United States as a small town, population 100, instead of a continent-spanning nation with hundreds of millions of people? Fact Tank has five charts that explore the religious demographic profile of the U.S. as a country made up of exactly 100 adults.”

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.

BJC Seeking Essays About Religion Demographicsjefferson-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 complete details and printable entry forms.

Your Tax-Deductible Contribtions 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.

Humanist ReflectionDavid Simon 3
“Albert Camus, a great humanist and existentialist voice, pointed out that to commit to a just cause with no hope of success is absurd. But then, he also noted that not committing to a just cause is equally absurd. But only one choice offers the possibility for dignity. And dignity matters. Dignity matters.”—David Simon

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  James Coffin, Executive Director
PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310
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