March 2019

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Baha’is Worldwide in Midst of Spiritual Holiday of RenewalBaha'i
For Baha’is worldwide, holy days from the end of February through March will serve as an uplifting, community-building and personal-renewal experience in preparation for the New Year. The Baha’i solar calendar has 19 days in each of 19 months, with 4-5 days left over. This period of renewal starts with the 4-5 intercalary days (February 26-March 1), called Ayyam’i’Ha, which means the “Days of Light.” This period is a time of celebration and joy and is marked by acts of charity and hospitality, giving gifts and visiting the poor and needy, friends and family. It’s also a precursor to the last month of the Baha’i year, which is a month of fasting. During the period of fasting, Baha’is don’t eat or drink between sunrise and sundown, which serves as a period of spiritual preparation for the new year. The fast ends at the solstice, which in this hemisphere is the first day of Spring. The Baha’i Naw-Ruz (New Year) celebration will be held on the evening of March 20. Anyone wishing to attend is welcome. Please RSVP to 407-312-5554 if you would like to join the Greater Orlando Baha’i Community at this event.

Portland Bans Discrimination against Atheists and Agnostics
From an article on the HuffPost’s website: “The Portland, Oregon, City Council has approved a measure extending civil rights protections to atheist, agnostic and other nonreligious residents. . . . The council’s unanimous vote on Wednesday [February 27] ensures that nonreligious people are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation. . . . The vote amends the definition of religion in Portland’s city code to include atheism, agnosticism and other forms of nonbelief. . . . Cheryl Kolbe, the president of the [Freedom From Religion Foundation’s] Portland chapter, told HuffPost that the City Council’s decision affirms that nonbelievers have the same protections against discrimination that religious residents have. . . . ‘This change is not about what is better, nonreligion or religion,” she wrote in an email. “It is about protection against discrimination.’”

In 2012: Australian Makes Blazing Animal-Rights Speech
WollenWarning: If you click on the link and watch the video highlighted in this item, you’re likely to have your hackles raised. For some, the hackle-raising will be because of disagreement. For others, it will be because of intense agreement. But few viewers will remain indifferent. And what’s it all about? Watch as Philip Wollen “shakes the rafters of the auditorium with this 10-minute speech to the St James Ethics Centre and the Wheeler Centre debate in Australia on May 16, 2012. The larger debate consists of six speakers, three that make the case for getting animals off the menu and three that make the case against it. Wollen is a former VP of Citibank and Australian philanthropist who is known to keep out of the limelight. But he . . . rose to the challenge for this debate to deliver a huge performance and a powerful message. . . .” Like it or hate it, his presentation contains an array of thought-provoking assertions.

Interfaith Council Executive Committee at Bronze Kingdom
On February 26, a number of members of the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida took a private, guided tour of the Bronze Kingdom, a 16,000-foot art gallery in Orlando Fashion Square Mall (3201 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803), which houses a collection of more than 2,000 pieces of rare African bronze sculpture—the largest such collection in the world. This exceptional collection of art gives insight into African history, culture, religion and much more. Bronze Kingdom owner, philanthropist and art collector extraordinaire Rawlvan Bennett spent an hour and a half sharing the history and explaining the significance of many of the gallery’s pieces of art. You can learn more about the Bronze Kingdom by going to their website. But if you’d like a really thorough expose, check out an article that starts on page 18 of Program Success magazine. Here’s a link to another article that also features the gallery. For the most direct access to the gallery, park on the north side of Fashion Square Mall between the Dillards and Penneys stores.

African-American Digital Magazine a Treasure Trove of Info
Program Success magazine, mentioned in the item above, is a treasure trove of information for African-Americans and for all others who want to become more conversant with African-American culture, concerns and experience. African-Americans will find many items in the magazine that may be of interest/benefit personally, or that they’d like to pass along to others. And those who aren’t of African heritage can find here some highly interesting material that has been gleaned, organized and packaged for easy perusal—such as the list of African-American inventors and their inventions described on pages 30-31. Many of the ideas, insights and tips are applicable whatever one’s race. And it costs nothing to be put on the email list! Click here to subscribe.

Interfaith Council is First Recipient of Mayor’s New Awardaward
At Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Neighborhood and Community Summit on March 2, the Mayor and his staff presented an award to the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, declaring the Council the “2019 Diversity and Inclusion Champion.” It was a new award that was given for the first time at this year’s Summit. Those present to receive the award on behalf of the Interfaith Council were: Pastor James Coffin, the Council’s Executive Director; the Rev. Bryan Fulwider, Chair of the Council’s Executive Committee and one of the Three Wise Guys on the radio program Friends Talking Faith; Dr. Sheri Dressler, of the Greater Orlando Baha’i community; Jasbir Bhatia, of the Sikh Society of Central Florida; Jocelyn Williamson, President of the Florida Humanist Association; David Williamson, Co-Director of the Central Florida Freethought Community; “Stoic Dan” Lampert, of the Orlando Stoics; and the Rev. Kathy Schmitz, recently retired Minister of First Unitarian Church of Orlando. Two other awards were given: the “Neighborhood Champion” award, which went to Genie Tuten from the Wadeview Park Neighborhood Association; and the “Community Builder” award, which went to the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County. “It is important to honor and recognize the individuals and organizations that give tirelessly of their time, talent and resources to improve the quality of life for all our residents,” said Mayor Dyer of the award recipients. “These men and women embody what it means to be a good neighbor and make the Orlando community a better place for all of us.” To read more about the awards and their recipients, click here.

Listen to Friends Talking Faith with The Three Wise Guys
Three 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.

First Meetup of Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Blind, Hearing Group
The first Meetup of a just-being-formed group—Orlando Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Blind, Hearing Community Connect—will be held at Gaston Edwards Park (1236 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL) on Saturday, March 9, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. “Come get to know the members of the group,” says organizer Jason Eli Schwartz. “We will enjoy all that this park has to offer, and then get together as a group and have some discussions regarding spirituality, life, unity, community and more. . . . There will be a few volunteer SSPs (Support Service Providers) and ASL interpreters attending. If you need a ride to the event, please message me, and we will work it out. Let’s all gather near the sand volleyball court. If for some reason the weather is bad, we will meet at Starbucks at 2604 East Colonial Market, Orlando, FL 32803.” For more information, contact Jason Eli Schwartz by email or by phone (845-521-5125).

Muslim Women’s Summit Being Held in Orlando March 9-10mwo
The Muslim Women’s Organization announces that its first-ever weekend-long GEMS Summit will be held in Orlando on Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10, at Florida Hotel and Conference Center (1500 Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32809). Theme for the event is Visionary Women: Creating Meaningful Change. The event will include: interactive discussions with Aisha Al-adawiya, founder of Women in Islam and a pioneer in the fight for women’s rights in the Muslim community; training sessions conducted by Rana Abdelhamid, of Malikah, whose focus will be on women’s organizing and healing justice; panel discussions highlighting the work of inspiring visionaries in the Central Florida community; a town-hall meeting sharing results of the Gender Equity Survey and how the needs highlighted by the survey can be addressed; as well as networking opportunities to connect to other women who are making an impact in the region. Go to Eventbrite for more information and to register.

Series about Small Christian Denominations Continuing 
clarkA once-a-month series focusing on some of Christianity’s smaller denominations is being hosted by community members in the Lake of the Woods subdivision at their Clubhouse (300 Carolwood Point, Fern Park, Casselberry). Each denomination featured is in some way out of the mainstream of Christianity—because of their mission, theology, methodology, history or some other defining characteristic. On Monday, March 11, the focus will be on the Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science). The presenter will be Sandy Clark, who serves on the Christian Science Committee on Publications for Florida. The presentations, organized by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, are on the second Monday of each month, beginning at 3:00 pm and lasting one hour. Approximately 30 minutes is used for the presentation, with the balance of the time for audience questions. The series is free and the public is invited. For more information, phone 321-228-4599Click here for directions.​

Interfaith Discussion: Your Faith’s Teaching RE Forgiveness
On Wednesday, March 13, at the monthly Interfaith Discussion sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, the question to be addressed is: “What Does Your Faith Teach about Forgiving Bad Actions that Happened Decades Ago, Especially in the Case of Elected Leaders? Is there a sort of spiritual statute of limitation in your faith that calls for a person’s past mistakes to automatically be buried after a certain passage of time? Does the kind of life lived in the intervening years play any role in whether past mistakes should be forgiven by God and by humans? Does a person’s acceptance of guilt and acknowledgement of lessons learned factor into whether the past should be forgiven? Does the same standard apply to both criminal activity and behavior that’s not illegal but is unquestionably insensitive, antisocial and unacceptable? These questions and many more like them will be addressed at the March 13 discussion. Interfaith Discussions are held from 7:00 to 8:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at AdventHealth University (671 Winyah Drive, Orlando, FL 32803) on AdventHealth’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.

Adventist Forum to Address Seventh-day Adventist Identity
The Central Florida chapter of the Association of  Adventist Forums, a loose-knit organization that addresses issues of particular interest to Seventh-day Adventist thought leaders, will meet on Friday, March 15, at 7:00 pm and on Saturday, March 16, at 3:30 pm on the ground floor of the Graduate Building of AdventHealth University (671 Winyah Dr, Orlando, FL 32803; see campus map for Graduate Building). The presenter for the two sessions will be Japhet De Oliveira, pastor of the Boulder, Colorado, Seventh-day Adventist Church and head of The One Project, a series of summits that call for greater focus on Jesus in every aspect of the Christian life. De Oliveira will provide an update on The One Project and discuss current Adventist identity in general. The public is invited.

New Film about Baha’i Faith Available for Purchase gate
A new documentary tells the little-known story of the origins of the Bahá’í faith. The film—The Gate: Dawn of the Bahá’í Faith—recounts the founding of this new world religion in Persia by a prophet known as the Báb. In the mid-1800s, Jews, Christians and Muslims alike were awaiting the imminent arrival of a Divine Messenger. Beginning in 1844, the Báb’s message—which included then-controversial ideas such as the oneness of major religions and the empowerment of women—spread like wildfire across the region. However, his groundbreaking message presented a threat to religious and political leaders of the time, resulting in relentless persecution of the Báb and his followers. Today, the Bahá’í religion is practiced throughout the world by over five million people. Combining dramatic reenactments with interviews of renowned historians, religious scholars and Bahá’í faith experts, The Gate: Dawn of the Bahá’í Faith celebrates the brief life of a prophet and the indelible impact His message continues to have on the world today. Click here to learn more about the film.

Local Entities Collaborate to Offer Crisis-Training Event
A disaster-preparedness training event will be held on Friday, March 29, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (411 Mercy Drive, Orlando, FL 32805). When disaster strikes, the community responds. Nonprofit organizations and foundations are always quick to respond. The question is: Could we be more coordinated in our response? If any of the following apply to you, this summit is for you. Do you play a role in disaster management? Do you fund someone who does? Do you send volunteers when crisis strikes? Do you just want to find a way to help? The March 29 event will give you a chance to learn from emergency managers, long-term recovery groups, foundation and corporate funders, volunteer organizers and more. And you’ll participate in a simulation of a disaster. A light continental breakfast and lunch will be served. There’s ample free parking. And ticket prices ($20) are kept low because of the sponsorship of the Central Florida FoundationOrlando Health and Wells FargoGo to Eventbrite to learn more and to register.

Guang Ming Buddhist Temple a Much-Appreciated Partner
The Guang Ming Buddhist Temple (6555 Hoffner Avenue, Orlando, FL 32822) has been a cherished faith-based Partner in Education with Rock Lake Elementary since 2012.  Every year temple representatives take the initiative to find what ways they can make the greatest positive impact on Rock Lake students. This school year, the temple is supporting student academic trips, providing participants for the “Teach In” and inviting students and their families to participate in events at the temple that promote cultural understanding. In addition to these projects, Guang Ming Temple has held two “drives” for school supplies and for supplies for Rock Lake’s Food Pantry and Clothing Closet. Orange County Public Schools invites faith-based, corporate and other groups to partner with specific schools to provide an extra boost. Learn more about such partnerships here.

Interfaith Yoga Project Has 3 Events Slated in Next 3 Months
yogaThe Interfaith Yoga Project has three events scheduled between now and May 4: (1) On Saturday, March 30, at  2:00 pm at Christ Unity Church (771 Holden Avenue, Orlando, FL) there will be a Family Practice. The event is free, and all genders and ages welcome. Click here to register. (2) On Wednesday, April 17, at Congregation of Reform Judaism (928 Malone Drive, Orlando, FL 32810) there will be a Passover Freedom Practice with Cantor Jacki Rawiszer at 7:00 pm. The event is free, and all genders and ages welcome. Click here to register. (3) On May 4, at 2:00 pm at the American Muslim Community Center (811 Wilma Street, Longwood, FL 32750) there will be a Ramadan Practice. The event is free, and females only are invited. Watch for registration details in subsequent Interfaith Council newsletters.

Messiah Choral Society Inviting Singers to Sing-Along 
Here’s the invitation: “If you love to sing, we invite you to be part of our annual Sing-Along. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get a ‘taste’ of George Frederick Handel’s Messiah. Karen Lecky-Springer, our Chorus Master, and Kristine Griffin, our Accompanist, will be with us as we sing the choruses of this most magnificent and powerful musical composition. Please join us for a fun evening.” The sing-along will be on Sunday, March 31, at 2:00 pm at First Congregational Church of Winter Park (225 South Interlachen Avenue, Winter Park, FL). As Maggie Winter, President of the Messiah Choral Society, puts it: “We are a very diverse group that seeks to increase our diversity. We welcome members of all faiths. It is free, and all singers are welcome. Please visit our website to learn more about us.” For more information send an email.

Heads-Up: The Providers to Be Screened; Date and Place TBDprovider
Sometime during the last few days of March or the first few days of April (TBD), AdventHealth University, the Global Peace Film Festival, the Interfaith Council of Central Florida and the Indie Lens Pop-Up are working together to provide a screening of the film The Providers (Click here to view a trailer.) The Indie Lens Pop-Up is a neighborhood series that brings people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations. Featuring documentaries seen on PBS’s Independent Lens, Indie Lens Pop-Up draws local residents, leaders and organizations to discuss what matters most, from newsworthy topics, to family and relationships. Set against the backdrop of the physician shortage and opioid epidemic in rural America, The Providers follows three healthcare providers in northern New Mexico. They work at El Centro, a group of safety-net clinics that offer care to all who walk through the doors. Amidst personal struggles that reflect those of their patients, the journeys of the providers unfold as they work to reach rural Americans who would otherwise be left out of the healthcare system. With intimate access, the documentary shows the transformative power of providers’ relationships with underserved patients. We will post the information here as soon as the date, time and venue are confirmed. The event is free, and the public is invited.

Holocaust Center Exhibit Featuring Art Inspired by WWll
Holocaust CenterThe Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751) will feature the exhibit “Artistic Expression Through Conflict: The Use of Art in World War II” until April 5. On loan from Florida State University, this is the first time this collection has been presented outside of North Florida. The exhibit features works by Peter Sanfilippo, Rolande Faucon, Mildred Shearer, USO performer Marguerite Jackson Fischer and others. All of the items were donated by their creators to the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University. Holocaust Center hours are Monday to Thursday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; Friday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm; and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm.

Better Man Event XV to Be Held at UCF Arena April 13
The 2019 Better Man Event will be held at the CFE Arena at the University of Central Florida (12777 Gemini Blvd North, Orlando, FL) on Saturday, April 13, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.  And just what is the Better Man Event? The organizers describe it as a Christian non-profit organization that invites men to a higher calling. “The Better Man Event is an annual three-hour power-packed men’s event designed to equip, encourage, and engage men to become “better.” Over the past 14 years the Better Man Event has featured keynote speakers from across the country to speak directly into men’s lives about what it is to be a better husband, father, brother, friend, co-worker and follower of Christ.” Click here for details and to book tickets (which typically have sold out weeks before the event).

Week of the Family Sponsoring Essay Contests for StudentsWOTF 2 
The Week of the Family is sponsoring essay contests for Orange County students in four categories—K-2, 3-5, middle school and high school. The theme of the 2019 Week of the Family (November 2-9) is: “Family: Be Present.” The essay competition in each age category invites the participants to—in 250 words or less—complete the statement: “I should be present with my family because . . .” Click here for the contest rules and application information. The deadline for essay submission is April 15.

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.

Comedian’s Reflection
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe, say or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”—Dave Chappelle

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