May 2016

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Why Is Interfaith Council Newsletter Arriving So Early?
The reason the Interfaith Council’s May newsletter is being delivered to you on April 21 is that Betty Alter—who, as a volunteer, handles our newsletter’s layout, graphics, mailing, mailing-list maintenance and a long list of other vital assignments—is freeing herself up to be caregiver and indispensable support to one of her daughters, who’s about to give birth. We hope the birth goes well, Betty. And we hope you don’t come down from your new-baby “high” until just a few hours before the June newsletter is ready for you to once again work your wonders on! Thanks for the indispensable role you play in supporting the birth of each grandchild—but also for so faithfully supporting the “birth” of each issue of the newsletter.Women’s Group Hosts International Dharma Conference
Global Peace Initiative of WomenFor those not familiar with the concept of dharma, here’s a truncated and partial definition: Dharma is a broad-ranging concept that includes spiritual teachings, the universal laws on which those teachings are based, the moral/behavioral obligations that derive from those teachings—and much, much more. Dharma plays a crucial role in each of the world religions originating in India—HinduismBuddhismSikhismJainism and others. To look at the far-reaching implication and challenge of these teachings/obligations, the Global Peace Initiative of Women hosted a symposium in India in November 2015 titled “Awakening the Light of Dharma: How to Uphold Dharma in the World Today.” And out of that gathering came a 22-minute dharma 3documentary titled Awakening the Light of Dharma. For those from one of the faith traditions originating in India, the film is a poignant reminder of spiritual obligation. For those not familiar with the India-originated faith traditions, the film is an introduction to and description of the undergirding principles and philosophy of those faiths and their universal applicability. In addition to participants from the Indian faith traditions, the event involved participants from Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Native American traditions. Symposium participants created and signed a pledge of common understanding and commitment, “The Sarnath Pledge to the Earth.”Canadian Prime Minister Celebrates With Sikhs
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a speech to a Sikh audience on April 11 in honor of Vaisakhi, the Sikh spring harvest festival, which is also a celebration of the institution of Khalsa, a sort of Sikh loyalty initiation begun during the time of Guru Gobind Singh. Prime Minister Trudeau spoke of the initial rejection of Sikh immigrants 102 years ago when they tried to disembark in Vancouver, noting that an official government apology will be delivered next month in the House of Commons. Mr. Trudeau also spoke of the great advances that have been made in Canada toward Sikh inclusion, noting that three members of his cabinet are Sikhs, and 17 members of Canada’s Parliament are Sikhs—meaning that Punjabi is now the third-most-spoken language in Canada’s government!

Comedian ‘Preacher Moss’ to Be Featured at FundraiserPreacher Moss 3
Standup comedian “Preacher Moss” (an African-American convert to Islam) will be the featured entertainer at a dinner and fundraiser that starts at 6:30 pm on Friday night, April 22, at the BBQ Tonight Banquet Hall (a halal restaurant situated at 6849 South Kirkman Road, Orlando, FL 32819). Proceeds from the event will go to the building program at Masjid Al-Malik, the flagship mosque of the Islamic Society of Central Florida. The public is invited. For more detail and to purchase tickets, go to Eventbrite.

Might Food Be an Aid to Better Interfaith Understandings?
IFYCA podcast from the Interfaith Youth Core titled Interfaith on the Menu: The Shared Value of Food discusses how food may be able to bridge some interfaith gaps that words can’t manage alone. Podcast hosts Carr and Prerna “talk turkey (but not bacon) about engaging diversity with the owners of a kosher BBQ restaurant, and find out what growing tomatoes has to do with learning about religious values. . . . From langar meals in Sikhism, to Muslim iftars during Ramadan, to the Jewish Passover sedersbeing held this very weekend, food holds a key place in our different faiths and philosophies. If you’re going to do interfaith engagement, make sure you keep food on the table.”

Muslims to Open Free Kissimmee Medical Clinic
The Muslim Council of America, supported by an array of Muslim medical doctors in the Kissimmee/South Orlando area, will celebrate the grand opening of a free medical clinic for the region’s uninsured on Saturday, April 23, from 9:15 to 10:00 am, at 700 Generation Point, Kissimmee, FL 34744. Those who attend will learn about the array of free services being offered by the new clinic, as well as catch a glimpse of the varied contributions Muslims are making to the Central Florida community. The public is cordially invited.

Muslims to Host Community Dialogue About PeaceIslam peace
From 10:00 to 11:45 am on Saturday, April 23 (immediately following the clinic opening —see item above), the Muslim Council of America —in collaboration with the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, several houses of worship and other community-based organizations—will host a dialogue designed to bring America’s Muslims and the general populace closer together. Often estranged under the shadow of terrorism, Americans—Muslim and non-Muslim alike—are searching for peace. The goal of the event is to promote understanding and reduce fear and suspicion within and between both groups. Participating in the presentations and dialogue will be Dr. Mohammed Akhtar, president of the Muslim Council of America; Pastor James Coffin of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida; candidate for the U.S. Senate Alan Grayson; candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives Dr. Dena Minning; Rev. George Nursey, Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando; Dr. Michael Savage of Valencia College; Imam Tariq Rasheed of the Islamic Center of Orlando; Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society of Central Florida; and other religious and community leaders. The public is cordially invited to attend both or either of these back-to-back events. For more information phone 321-663-3298 or send an email to

Catholic Chaplain Working to Abolish Capital Punishment
Dale Recinella 2Catholic lay chaplain Dale Recinella has strong feelings about the death penalty. He also has personal insights. In 1998, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Florida, he began ministering cell-to-cell to the approximately 400 men on Florida’s death row and the approximately 2,000 men in Florida’s long-term solitary confinement. He and his wife, Dr. Susan Recinella, minister as a team during executions: he serving as spiritual advisor to the condemned, and his wife serving as a lay minister to the condemned’s family and loved ones. They also minister to the families and loved ones of the murder victims. He is the author of Now I Walk on Death Row: A Wall Street Finance Lawyer Stumbles into the Arms of a Loving God (Chosen Books: April 2011) and The Biblical Truth about America’s Death Penalty (Northeastern University Press: 2004). His major articles include: “Ending the Death Penalty: What One Catholic Supreme Court Justice Could Do,” America, April 28, 2008; and “Why American Catholics Must Say ‘No’ to the Death Penalty,” America, November 1, 2004. Click here to view a presentation on the death penalty by Mr. Recinella at Willamette University, Salem, Oregon, on March 17, 2016.

Peace Picnic to Be Held at Lake Mills Park April 23
A multi-faith picnic will be held Saturday, April 23, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, at Lake Mills Park (1301 Tropical Avenue, Chuluota, FL 32766). The purpose of the gathering is for people of all faith traditions to meet, connect and celebrate core principles of love and acceptance that define shared belief in the Divine Creator. In addition to free pizza and hamburgers, there will be a Tug o’ Peace and other peace-building activities for people of all ages. Please invite all your friends and fellow congregants! This event is being planned by Friends in Faith, a Central Florida group formed to promote peace and unity across all faith traditions! For more information email Jean Bagga. (Please note the lunch menu changes from what was posted in last month’s newsletter.)

Islamic Center of Orlando to Host Community BBQIslamic Center of Orlando
The Islamic Center of Orlando is hosting an interfaith, everyone-in-the-community-is-invited barbecue on
Saturday, April 23, beginning at 5:30 pm, at the Center’s soccer field (11543 Ruby Lake Road, Orlando FL 34786).
The entire community is invited to this family-oriented,
let’s-get-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.” Please RSVP no later than Friday, April 22, either by email or by phone (407-238-2700).

Interfaith Council Director to Speak at Nu Class
James CoffinPastor James Coffin, executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, will speak at the Nu Class of First United Methodist Church of Orlando on Sunday, April 24. The public is invited. The title of Coffin’s presentation is: “What Ever Happened to Civility in the Public Square?” Is there a need to modify our public discourse? If so, is there anything the general populace can do to make it happen? Or are we simply stuck with whatever standards public figures choose to set? And should the faith community be involved in such matters? Come to the Nu Class to hear this—and more—discussed. The Nu Class meets on the First Floor, Room 6, of First United Methodist Church of Orlando (142 East Jackson Street, Orlando FL 32801). The class goes from 9:30 to 10:45 am each Sunday. Click here for location and parking information.

‘Armed in America’ to Be Filmed at Northland April 27Northland Church
Come join a PBS team for the filming of two Town Halls to be done at Northland Church (530 Dog Track Road, Longwood, FL 32750) on Wednesday, April 27, from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. (Guests are requested to arrive early so the filming can begin at 6:30 pm sharp.) The back-to-back Town Hall conversations, jointly titled “Armed in America,” will explore faith and firearms, and the increased militarization of the police. The Town Hall conversations will be moderated by Michel Martin of NPR’s “All Things Considered” and will be based on two films: The Armor of Light, which follows an Evangelical minister and the mother of a teenage shooting victim who asks, “Is it possible to be both pro-gun and pro-life?” And Peace Officer, which explores the increased militarization of the police, looking through the eyes of a former sheriff who established his state’s first SWAT team—only to see that same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff. Exclusive online screenings of the films will be available to audience members who pre-register for the Town Hall. RSVP here. The filmed Town Halls will air on PBS May 9 and 10.

Buddha’s Birthday, Asian Food Festival on May 1
Buddha's BirthdayGuang Ming Temple (6555 Hoffner Avenue, Orlando, FL 32822) invites the public to its 2016 Buddha’s BirthdayCelebration and Asian Vegetarian Food Festival from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm on Sunday, May 1. The event is free, though the food, which is very reasonably priced, must be purchased. The Buddha’s Birthday Celebration Ceremony and Offering Procession in the temple will begin promptly at10:00 am. The Asian Vegetarian Food Festival and general entertainment are expected to begin outside at about 11:30 am. Guests will also have the opportunity to tour the temple. This is one of the largest events Guang Ming Temple presents each year, attracting thousands from across the state. It is hosted by the Florida Chapter of Buddha’s Light International Association. Guang Ming Temple is one of over 200 Fo Guang Shan temples spread throughout the world. For more information, contact Guang Ming Temple at 407‐281‐8482.

Holocaust Center to Host Annual Day of Remembrance
Peter HomburgerThe Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751) invites individuals and families from throughout the community to join in its annual Yom HaShoah commemorative program at 4:00 pm on Sunday, May 1, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751). This annual event pays tribute to the six million Jews and many others who died during the Holocaust, and to honor the SurvivorsLiberators and Rescuers who keep their stories alive. In addition to traditional music and local Survivors lighting candles in remembrance of Hitler’s victims, the program features a conversation with Peter Homburger, a survivor who now lives in Colorado. He is the uncle of Maitland resident Dr. Eve Homburger, who was instrumental in arranging for him to speak here. He was rescued in the Kindertransport program and will talk about that effort in 1939 and the impact it had in his life.

Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys
3 Wise GuysHear 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. May’s programming features the following:

  • May 3Faith and Politics: Religious leaders discuss the current political climate
  • May 10: Faith and Women Leaders: Three generations discuss leadership roles—past, present and future
  • May 17: Faith and Anger: Part 1 of a 3-part series on Anger, Fear and Hope
  • May 24: Faith and Fear: Part 2 of a 3-part series on Anger, Fear and Hope
  • May 31Faith and Hope: Part 3 of a 3-part series on Anger, Fear and Hope

Rollins College Offering Lifelong Learning Classes
Are you 50 years of age or older and have a bucket list of things you want to learn? Then the Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning may be just the thing for you. During May, June and July, the RCLL will continue to offer an array of classes that address subjects ranging from art to religion to playing Mahjong. In fact, the array of classes is truly amazing. Each class costs $65. Classes fill up quickly, so register as soon as you know which class/classes you’d like to take. (The deadline for May classes is Thursday, April 28.) Questions may be directed to Dr. Jill Norburn.

‘Getting to Know My Non-Christian Neighbors’ Redux
Following is the description of a class offered by the Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning in its May schedule: A few decades ago, the odds were overwhelming that the family moving into the house next door would be Christian. The only question was whether they’d be Baptists, Catholics, Methodists or some other denomination. But those odds are changing. Although self-described Christians still account for more than 75 percent of the U.S. population, other faith traditions are on the increase. And the fastest-growing religious major religionsaffiliation in the U.S. is “no religious affiliation.” So just what is the respective worldview of these other faith/no-faith groups? Why not let them speak for themselves? At each class session, hear two presenters give a lively half-hour overview of the main features of their respective faith tradition/worldview. Then you as a class will have half an hour to ask them questions. In all, you’ll hear eight presenters from eight faith traditions/worldviews: Baha’i, Buddhism, Hinduism, Humanism/Atheism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Unitarian Universalism. James Coffin, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, will serve as the class convener and moderator of the question-and-answer periods. The dates for the classes are (all Wednesdays): May 4, 11, 18 and 25 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm. The classes will be held at the Lawrence Center, Room A, 200 East New England Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789. For more detail and to register, go to the news item above and follow the various links provided.

Wonderful Wizard of Song: An Evening with Harold Arlen
Harold-Arlen_2Those who love the music of composer Harold Arlen (and who doesn’t?) will be delighted to know they’ll have five opportunities in May this month to listen to the best music of one of the best—if not the best—composers the United States has produced. Arlen’s masterpiece Over the Rainbow—just one of his more than 500 compositions—was voted in 2003 the number one movie song of all-time by the American Film Institute. It’s appropriate that this multi-performance concert should be at the Jewish Community Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751), because it was listening to his father, the synagogue cantor that first inspired young Harold (or Hyman, as he was known then). Get a sense of just how inspired the young man was when on May 5, 7 or 8 or May 14 or 15 you can listen to Over the Rainbow, Stormy Weather, It’s Only a Paper Moon, I’ve Got the World on a String, Get Happy, Blues in the Night Come Rain or Come Shine and more. Click here for details of the featured performers and how to book your tickets. Oh, one more thing: Tell your friends—because they might want to avail themselves of this opportunity, as well.

Interfaith Series Continuing in Casselberry on May 9centerforpeace
The public is invited to one-hour, once-a-month series of presentations on different faiths, which is 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.” The speaker for the final session of the current spring series, which will be held on Monday, May 9, is Bassem Chaaban, of the Center for Peace at the Islamic Society of Central Florida. He will be speaking about Islam. The series is going on hiatus for the summer months but will begin again in September. For more information, phone 321-228-4599Click here for directions.

CEJ Co-Sponsoring Film About Florida’s Intricate Ecosystem
Forgotten Coast 2The Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law is inviting the public to view the documentary The Forgotten Coast: Return to Wild Floridawhich will be screened at the Orlando Science Center (777 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL 32803) at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, May 10, following a “meet and mingle” at 6:00 pm. This important film highlights a sobering array of issues facing Florida’s ecosystem. The event is co-sponsored by the Florida Wildlife CorridorFriends of the Wekiva River, the League of Women Voters Orange County, the League of Women Voters SeminoleOrange Audubon SocietySeminole Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to Eventbrite.

What Does Your Faith Tradition Teach About End of Life?
The topic for May’s Interfaith Discussion is: “What Does Your Faith Tradition Teach About End of Life?” Are you morally and spiritually obligated to submit to every medical procedure possible to preserve life at all costs? Is it acceptable to refuse treatment, knowing it will hasten the inevitable? Is it acceptable to take steps designed specifically to accelerate one’s demise? What about active euthanasia? Come prepared to discuss these questions and more on Wednesday, May 11, at the monthly Interfaith Discussion sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. The Interfaith 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 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 place, click here. Admission is free. Everyone is invited.

Tennessee Lawmakers Want Bible as State’s Official BookBible 2
When legislators in Tennessee—seemingly with time on their hands and the belief that the state’s taxpayers wouldn’t mind having tens of thousands in taxes spent to defend unnecessary lawsuits—voted to declare the Bible the state’s official book. Read more here. Before taking such an action, the lawmakers should have listened to the sage comments of Catholic Bishop Richard Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville, who said: “As a Catholic, as a Christian, we believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, but I also recognize that we live in a pluralistic society, and we have a mixture of different faiths.” Bishop Stika warned that making the Bible Tennessee’s official book could “cause division within the state,” noting that he doesn’t need a state proclamation to realize the Bible is an important book. He said the state should respect all faiths, “without saying this one is more important than that one.” Tennessee’s governor has vetoed the bill, much to the disappointment of its sponsors.

Quakers of Orlando Have New Facebook Page
Quakers 2The Orlando Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) are getting used to a new Facebook page that highlights many of the activities the group is involved in. Check it out. Then click “Like” before you move on. Learn more about Quakers in general and Orlando Quakers in particular by going to their website as well. The local Friends Meeting House is located at 316 East Marks Street, Orlando, FL 32803.

In 2016, Why Not Make Regular Contributions a Habit?
If you appreciate what’s being achieved by the Interfaith Council of Central Floridaand Friends Talking Faith With the Three Wise Guys radio program, why not resolve now 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 Reflectionimages 2
“The crucial test of ethical values is whether they apply to strangers, and those afar, not just in our midst.”
—– Bernard Crick, Essays on Citizenship, 2000

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