May 2020

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Interfaith Discussion to Be Held via Zoom on May 13

On Wednesday, May 13, the monthly Interfaith Discussion sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida will be held on Zoom from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. The broad-ranging subject for the evening will involve such questions as: Does you faith tradition encourage you to interact with those of other faiths or of no faith? Is your faith tradition willing to work with other faiths on religious or community projects? Or does your faith tradition emphasize the need to stay separate so adherents won’t be influenced by those holding differing spiritual and behavioral views? Is there any context in which your faith tradition would encourage shunning, ostracism, discrimination—or even violence—against another faith? Those are just a few directions the discussion may go. To join the discussion on Zoom, click here. Or dial 312 626 6799. Meeting ID: 839 1389 2913. Password: 202814. The monthly 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 more information, phone 321-228-4599.

Orange County Mayor Extends Invitation to Virtual Town Hall
Demings 3​Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings is inviting local faith and humanist leaders to a virtual Town Hall that will include a panel discussion addressing the topic “Reopening Houses of Worship: Diverse Conversations & Perspectives.” Serving on the panel will be Mayor Demings, Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino and Pastor Danny de Armas, Senior Associate Pastor of First Baptist Orlando. Moderating will be Pastor Roderick Zak, President of the Africa American Council of Christian Clergy, and Pastor James Coffin, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. The event is a collaborative effort of the Orange County Mayor’s Office, the Central Florida Commission on Religious Freedom, the African American Council of Christian Clergy and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida. Faith and humanist leaders are asked to register for Webex participation by clicking here. The general public is invited to tune in to Orange TV, which will carry the virtual Town Hall live. Viewing options include Channel 488 on Spectrum, Channel 9 on Comcast, 1081 CenturyLink Prism TV,  WSWF Channel 10.2 (over the air), stream live at or view via the Orange TV app on ROKU in the Education category. The virtual Town Hall be on Thursday, May 14, from 2:00 to 3:00 pm.

GPFF Has Great Lineup of Films Available at WebsiteGPFF
The coronavirus has changed what a lot of organizations have been doing to benefit the public. Fortunately, many of those organizations have found creative ways to continue making their contribution, though it has to be done in a different manner. One organization that has adjusted its mechanism while still continuing to pursue its mission is the Global Peace Film Festival. Instead of screening selected films at local venues between its annual festivals, GPFF has worked with other film-connected entities to make screenings available right from the GPFF website: “We are delighted to begin a series of conversations with filmmakers, community partners and other special guests led by GPFF Executive Director Nina Streich and GPFF Artistic Director Kelly DeVine. These discussions will be streamed on Zoom and Facebook Live, and they’ll be available for on-demand viewing on the GPFF website.” Click here to learn what films are on the schedule for the month of May.

Two Sikh Doctors Stack Imperatives During Pandemic
From the Friendly Atheist blog at Patheos website: “In hard-hit [by COVID-19] Montréal, Quebec, two Sikh doctors have made the choice to break the rules of their religion in the service of a greater principle. . . . The Montreal Gazette‘s Bill Brownstein tells the story of Sanjeet Singh-Saluja and Rajeet Singh-Saluja, who both work within Montréal’s overtaxed hospital system. Their facial hair has never presented a problem before, but that changed when the spread of COVID-19 made face masks a necessary part of every interaction. On a person who sports a beard, the N95 mask isn’t able to form a proper protective seal. That meant that the Singh-Saluja brothers had to keep their distance from their patients, preventing them from pitching in to help handle the COVID crisis. . . . One of the principles of the Sikh religion (kesh) mandates that believers eschew hair removal of all kinds, right down to the question of eyebrow trimming. . . . But there’s another important principle in Sikhism, the idea of selfless service to others (called seva). That’s what ultimately informed the brothers’ decision. Says Sanjeet.” It definitely wasn’t an easy decision to make. But their determination not to let anything hinder their service to fellow humans who are in desperate straits definitely impressed the typically skeptical writer of the blog.

Christian Service Center Seeking Volunteers . . . and Funds
Service CenterHere’s an update from CSC: “While our community has begun re-opening, there are still tens of thousands of your neighbors who remain furloughed and out of work. The tidal wave of need will continue to swell this summer as our economy tries to regain strength in light of our post-pandemic, new world. . . . Typically, our Family & Emergency Services program has about 240 appointments per month. In April that number soared to 1,864! More than 83% of clients we helped last month came to us specifically because of COVID-19’s economic shutdown. Our Daily Bread kitchens are serving an average 400 meals each day. . . . If you’re healthy, help us serve the hungry! Guests are served via take-out. Per current safety guidelines, volunteers prepare meals inside the kitchen and staff hand out meals at the door. We have dates to fill later this month and in June.” Click here for details of how to get involved.

FADP Circulates Global 2019 Death-Penalty Statistics
Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty recently circulated statistics for 2019. The Amnesty International Annual Global Death Penalty Report states that global executions during 2019 fell by 5 percent to a 10-year low. The top six executing countries in 2019 were China (thousands); Iran (at least 251); Saudi Arabia (184); Iraq (at least 100); Egypt (at least 32); and USA (22). Florida led the nation in 2019 with the highest number of new death sentences—seven. Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is a non-profit and non-partisan statewide Florida organization of individuals and groups united to abolish the death penalty in Florida.

US Council of Muslim Organizations Cautions Re COVID-19
As part of a leadership campaign run in April, the US Council of Muslim Organizations
produced a video of Muslim religious leaders and medical professionals encouraging people to honor the stay-at-home orders that were in effect in most states. Under the slogan “Stay at Home, Stop the Virus, Save Lives,” a multitude of presenters encouraged Muslims—and, by inference, the general population—to take the coronavirus seriously. The video reminded people that “it is not over until it is over!” Click here to watch the video.

Artist Depicts Medical Worker in Style of Religious Icon
In the picture, A man walks by a depiction of a medical worker in protective equipment as Christ Pantocrator, in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (see photo). The artwork, among others depicting medical staff in the style of religious icons, was created by designer Wanda Hutira as part of a campaign called Thank You Doctors, meant to raise awareness to the work of medical staff fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. However, not everyone found the artwork uplifting. Some even found it blasphemous. So it will be removed from all locations in the Romanian capital, according to the agency behind the project.

CRN and UCF Partner for Free Suicide-Prevention Training
Given the tremendous burdens facing our community due to the COVID-19 health crisis, there is no better time to be equipped to help someone in need. Especially if that training makes the difference in saving their life. Community Resource Network is partnering again with the University of Central Florida FINS Project to offer, free of charge, the virtual training event “Question, Persuade, Refer: Suicide Prevention.” The virtual training will be on Wednesday, May 20, from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. The curriculum is geared towards front-line professionals, ministry staff and volunteer lay people. Participants will learn a nationally recognized three-step approach that teaches about warning risk factors, asking the right questions and providing proper intervention. The training is free, but prior registration is required at Eventbrite.

Hindu University Announces Class Offerings for Summer
HUA 2Hindu University of America has announced its offerings for the summer quarter. The classes include: Orientation to Hindu Studies; Basic Sanskrit Vocabulary & Structure; Holistic Yoga; Yoga Lifestyle & Wellness; as well as other courses still to be confirmed. Also, Dr. Kundan Singh of the Hindu University of America recently recorded an interview on the YouTube Channel “Sangam Talks” on the topic “Colonial Discourse on India and Hinduism.” His interview, based on his book Making Children Hinduphobic: A Critical Review of Mcgraw Hill’s World History Textbooks, can be viewed here.

Been There, Done That: Pandemic Nothing New for One Man107-Year-Old 
When the 1918 flu pandemic broke out, Joe Newman (photo) was 5 years old. This 107-year-old Sarasota resident and his fiancée, Anita Sampson, reflected on the 1918 flu and on today’s pandemic on All Things Considered. Listen to the NPR interview (6:28 mins). By the way, this little items was gleaned from the Orange County Commission on Aging Newsletter. If you’re a senior citizen, you should subscribe to the newsletter because it’s bursting with helpful information, resources and things to do. Plus, it’s free. If you’re a caregiver to a senior citizen, you also should subscribe for the same reason. It may turn out to be one of your most helpful and trusted resources.

Want to Become a Student at Harvard? Just Do It. It’s Free
As long as you’re seeking knowledge more than academic credit, Harvard University has an array of online classes that you can take online—for free! Though you will have to pay if you want tangible proof that you took the class. The classes cover a wide variety of study areas. Many address religion, culture and history. So why not check it out. Click here to see what’s being offered.

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