October 2018

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Amnesty Releases Report about Death Penalty in FloridaDeath Penalty
In late August, Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, along with Amnesty International, Florida death-row exoneree Herman Lindsey and murder victims’ family members SueZann Bosler and Juanita Perez (see photo) called on Florida policymakers to end the state’s dependence on the death penalty. In front of the offices of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, Amnesty International released their latest report: “USA: Darkness Visible in the Sunshine State.” This report examines how many death-row inmates have been denied the chance of a review of their death sentences by the state’s response to the Hurst v. Florida ruling in 2016, in which the US Supreme Court overturned the state’s capital sentencing statute because it gave juries only an advisory role in death sentencing. Check out the Amnesty International report (at the link above) to learn more about the issues associated with Florida’s approach to the death penalty.

What Is Sukkot? Follow the Link Below to Find Out
Unless you’re Jewish or happen to have Jewish neighbors with whom you converse over the back fence, your knowledge about the Judaism’s Holy Days may be limited to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover.  And even then, your understanding may be thin. So it’s unlikely that you know a whole lot about Sukkot—the Feast of Tabernacles—a spiritual celebration that was on the calendar not all that long after Yom Kippur, in late September. But for those who want to expand their knowledge of Judaism, here’s the “Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) Guide for the Perplexed, 2018.”

A Gift for Teaching Celebrates Its 20th Birthday
Gift for TeachingA Gift for Teaching—a nonprofit whose mission is “to improve public school education by providing resources and surplus materials free to teachers for their students in need”—celebrated its 20th birthday on September 16. Today, A Gift For Teaching serves 287 public schools in Orange and Osceola counties. There are more than 240,000 children whose families live at or below the poverty line in Central Florida, but the most shocking number is that 17,000 of those students are homeless. Since 1998, A Gift For Teaching has: distributed $120 million in supplies including books, school essentials, art materials, hygiene items and clothing to students in need; placed 12.3 million pencils and more than 2 million books into local classrooms; logged more than 708,000 volunteer hours; diverted more than 16 million pounds of goods from landfills. Learn more about A Gift for Teaching at the organization’s website.

Video Describes Sikh Contributions and Challenges in Britain
Although Sikhs are the fifth-largest world religion—coming in numerical rank after Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, in that order—many people know little about them, their history, practices and the values to which they subscribe. Because Sikh men wear turbans, they stand out in a crowd and are easily identifiable, which means they also are at times discriminated against or subjected to violence—usually by people who know little or nothing about them. And that’s true even in Britain, where some 400,000 Sikhs reside and for whom the Sikhs fought valiantly in both world wars. Click here to download a short video, produced in Britain, concerning the Sikhs and their contribution to and challenges within British culture.

Sikh Scientist in Boise Has More Patents than Thomas EdisonSikh Scientist
From the Idaho Statesman: “Move over, Thomas Edison. . . . You’re known to generations as America’s greatest inventor. You developed the phonograph, the movie camera, the electric light. You received 1,093 patents from the U.S. . . . But now, here in Boise [Idaho], somebody has topped you. Somebody most Boiseans have never heard of. . . . Meet Gurtej Sandhu. He has lived in Boise for 29 years. And he has racked up 1,299 U.S. patents by the latest count. The seventh-most of anyone. In the world. In all time.” It’s a fascinating story about a man from another country and a member of a minority religion who’s definitely making his mark. Read more of this interesting story here.

October: 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 October are:

  • October 2: Faith and Religion: The Power of Story
  • October 9: Faith and Life: The Quantity and Quality of Life Question
  • October 16: Faith and Justice: When the Innocent Go to Prison
  • October 23: Faith and Justice: The Exonerated
  • October 30: Faith and Community: Love Still Winning—Part 1

Documentary ‘Leftovers’ to Be Screened at Beardall Center
HungerOrlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Seniors First, Inc., are collaborating to screen the documentary “Leftovers” as part of World Food Day. More than five million American seniors experience food insecurity. To document and highlight this magnitude and nature of this situation, photographer and documentarian Seth Hancock traveled the country to discover why seniors are the new face of hunger in America and what is being done to make a difference in their lives. The 68-minute film will be shown to the at the Beardall Senior Center (800 Delaney Avenue Orlando Florida 32801) on Tuesday, October 16, from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. A discussion led by a panel of local experts will follow the screening, and refreshments will be served. RSVP to Michelle Lowe by phone (407-615-8962) or by email. The event is free and the public is invited.

US Supreme Court May Consider Religious-Liberty Issues
An article on the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty reminds its readers that Monday, October 1, was “the beginning of the 2018-19 term of the U.S. Supreme Court. One task for the justices will be sifting through the numerous petitions pending before the Court to determine whether to decline them or take them up. A handful of the cases that will be waiting for them involve religious liberty questions.” Click here for “a quick run-down of those cases.”

Florida Hospital to Host ‘Take a Stride Against Suicide’suicide
On World Mental Health Day—Wednesday, October 10—the Florida Hospital Altamonte Community Advisory Council will host free educational seminar in which an expert panel will discuss signs that your loved one may be at risk for suicide and the steps you can take to keep them safe. The panel will include a parent, an emergency-room nurse, a school-board representative and others as part of an interactive session moderated by the Mental Health Association of Central Florida. The event will be held from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at Noah’s Event Venue, 720 Currency Circle, Lake Mary, FL 32746. The seminar is free and the public is invited. A complimentary lunch will be provided. The session will also be streamed live on the Florida Hospital Altamonte Facebook page. Register at Eventbrite.

Interfaith Discussion to Address Clergy Child Abuse
“Religion, Child Abuse, Other Sexual Improprieties and the Role of Spiritual institutions in Covering It Up”—that’s the topic to be addressed at the Interfaith Discussion on Wednesday night, October 10. What does your faith tradition say is more important: concern for the spiritual institution or concern for the individual? What can be done to prevent such behavior? What can be done to bring healing and justice to the victim when it does happen? How much grace should be granted to the perpetrator? These are just some of the questions that will be addressed when the Interfaith Discussion group, sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, meets on Wednesday, October 10. 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.

Lecture to Feature Multicultural Perspectives on Caregiving
Distinguished Lecture 3The hosted by Florida Hospital (soon to be AdventHealth) will this month feature as speaker Yanira Cruz, a respected authority on caregiving among diverse populations. Cruz will provide insight into the unique needs of caregivers, giving practical tips on how families and the broader community can support those caring for a loved one. She will highlight how the combination of stress and the physical demands of caregiving over an extended period puts caregivers themselves at risk for significant health problems, regardless of age, sex, race or ethnicity. Cruz, who serves as President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, is on the Board of Directors for Justice in Aging and a member of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations. She is a founding member of the Diverse Elders Coalition and was named one of the Top 50 Influencers in Aging by Next Avenue. Cruz received a bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University, where she also earned a master’s degree in public health and a doctorate in public health, with a specialty in global health. The Distinguished Lecture Series event will be held at at the Orlando Museum of Art (2416 North Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803) on Wednesday, October 17, with registration and hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 pm, and the presentation from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. Click here to register.

Health Report: Cancer Will Kill Nearly 10 Million This Year
From CNN: “The number of people around the world who have cancer is ‘rapidly growing,’ with 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths in 2018 alone, researchers estimate in a new report. . . . By the end of the century, cancer will be the No. 1 killer globally and the single biggest barrier to increasing our life expectancy, according to the report, released Wednesday by the World’s Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. . . . The researchers used data from 185 countries, looking at all the places in the body cancer can occur and taking a deeper look at 36 types. . . . Based on this data, one in five men and one in six women will develop cancer during their lifetime, the researchers estimate. One in eight men and one in 11 women will die from the disease. . . . The number of cancer cases is increasing for a number of reasons, the report says: The global population is growing, and more people means more cancer. The population is also aging, and cancer risks grow as you age. The numbers also look worse because in many countries, stroke and heart disease deaths are declining.”

The Three Wise Guys to Present at Lake of the WoodsThree Wise Guys 2
On Monday, October 22, at 7:00 pm in the Lake of the Woods Clubhouse (300 Carolwood Point, Fern Park, FL 32730), The Three Wise Guys will address the topic: “In Our Pluralistic World, What Are Reasonable Moral Expectations for Our Elected Officials?” Is belief in God a prerequisite? Is being active in a faith community essential? Should certain forms of behavior be disqualifiers? Or should fitness for office be purely a matter of who can best deliver on the party’s platform—with personal behavior and character not even considered in our selection process? Hear the perspective of the Rev. Bryan Fulwider,, Rabbi Steve Engel and Imam  Muhammad Musri as they discuss how their faith impacts all aspects of life—including politics. Imam Musri, Senior Imam of the Islamic Society of Central Florida; Rabbi Engel, Senior Rabbi of the Congregation of Reform Judaism in Winter Park; and Rev. Fulwider, former Senior Minister of First Congregational Church of Winter Park and now President of the nonprofit BuildingUS, have been broadcasting weekly on Orlando’s NPR affiliate (WMFE 90.7 FM) on the program Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys. The October 22 presentation, organized by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, marks the launch of a monthly series of presentations that will look at some of Christianity’s smaller denominations. Details of the series will be included in upcoming Interfaith Council newsletters. Click here for directions the the event venue.

Religious Typology: A New Way to Categorize by Religion
From the Pew Research Center: “Most U.S. adults identify with a particular religious denomination or group. They describe themselves as Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Jewish, Mormon or Muslim– to name just a few of the hundreds of identities or affiliations that people give in surveys. Others describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or say they have no particular religious affiliation. These are the conventional categories into which Americans sort themselves. But a new Pew Research Center analysis looks at beliefs and behaviors that cut across many denominations—important traits that unite people of different faiths, or that divide people who have the same religious affiliation—producing a new and revealing classification, or typology, of religion in America.” Want to know where you fall on the scale between Sunday Stalwart and Solidly Secular? Then take the quiz that has been developed by the Pew Research Center. Click here to pursue the topic even further.

PJI Organizing Central Florida Freethought Community Visit
cffc 2Over the past several years, Valencia College’s Peace and Justice Institute has organized visits to houses of worship of various faith traditions in Central Florida. Students, and community members who’ve joined in, have learned about Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians in this way. On Sunday, October 21, the PJI is organizing its first-ever visit to the Central Florida Freethought Community to learn about secular humanism and the work being done by the CFFC to preserve separation between church and state. Members of the public are invited to join in, though they’re asked to register in advance. For more information and to register contact Elizabeth Faulcon by email or by phone (407-582-6022 ). The event will be held from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm at the University Club of Winter Park (841 North Park Avenue, Winter Park. FL 32789).

Islamic Center of Orlando to Host Faith-Leader Event
The Islamic Center of Orlando is inviting Central Florida’s faith leaders to a meet-and-greet dinner, which will be held at 11551 Ruby Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32836, on Thursday, October 25, at 6:30 pm. The purpose of the event is twofold. First, it’s to bring leaders of all faiths together to build friendships and promote peace, unity and harmony among all communities. Second, it’s to find ways to engage collaboratively with local law enforcement for community betterment—so the event is co-sponsored by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Thus the official title of the event: “Standing in Faith Against Crime.” For more information and to make a reservation, either send an email or phone 407-238-2700. Please share this information with faith-leader colleagues, so all can benefit from the event.

Fashion Square Mall Now Home to ‘Bronze Kingdom’ GalleryBronze Kingdom 2
Fashion Square Mall has become home to the impressive 16,000-square-foot art “Bronze Kingdom” art gallery developed by art collector, philanthropist and entrepreneur Rawlvan R. Bennett. The gallery features some 2,000 pieces of African art acquired by Bennett over the past 37 years. These have come directly from African leaders, the result of cultivated relationships, respectful negotiation and Bennett’s prodigious help in building schools, hospitals and bridges for West African communities. The Bronze Kingdom represents an important spectrum of African bronze, beaded and wood sculptures from throughout the continent, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Especially notable are grand palatial pieces from the Benin and Bamoun tribal kingdoms, some dating back to the early 1600s. The gallery is open to collectors, institutions and the general public for sales, educational tours, cultural programs and exclusive events. Click here to learn more.

Multi-Faith Workshop: What My Faith Teaches about Peace
Mother Teresa said: “Peace begins with a smile.” Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” Jawaharlal Nehru said: “Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. . . . Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.” So how do the world’s religions relate to such statements? What is their teaching concerning peace? Why should we pray for peace? The New Age (Seniors) Group of the Hindu Society of Central Florida cordially invites the public to a Multi-Faith Workshop focusing on peace. Presented in collaboration with Hindu University of America, the Chinmaya Mission and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, the event will be held at the Community Hall at the Hindu Society of Central Florida, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707, from 1:30 to 4:00 pm on Sunday, November 4. The event is free, with prior RSVP. Speakers from a array of faith traditions will each give a brief presentation on their respective viewpoint concerning the nature of peace, the importance of peace and the means to peace. Refreshments and a time for social interaction will conclude the event.

Now on Display at the Holocaust Center: ‘Heroes of Warsaw’
Holocaust Exhibit 2Built around the illustrations of Bill Farnsworth, the current exhibit at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751)—titled “Heroes of Warsaw”—highlights the courage and bravery of Irena Sendler and Janusz Korczak. This is the first time that all of Farnsworth’s illustrations of these people and the events surrounding hem will be presented—only half of this collection has been on display before. Based on the children’s books A Hero and the Holocaust: The Story of Janusz Korczak and Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto, this exhibit highlights the impact these heroes had on the children in the Warsaw Ghetto. “My approach was to be brutally honest, yet with a window of hope,” stated Farnsworth. “The heroes like Korczak, and Sendler showed the world that during tragic times a few had the courage to rise above and do what’s right.” The exhibit will be on display until December 28.

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.

Buddhist Reflection
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”

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  James Coffin, Executive Director
PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310
|T  321-228-4599   | E  jim@interfaithfl.org
| W  https://interfaithfl.org/

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