March 2014

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Florida Hospital to Host Women’s Interfaith EventPam Tebow
Florida Hospital is hosting an Interfaith Women’s Prayer Breakfast on Monday, March 3, at the Ballroom at Church Street (225 South Garland Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801). Sign-in will begin at 7:00 am, and the program will run from 7:30 to 9:30 am. Featured guests include Christian motivational speaker Pam Tebow, Florida Hospital vice president Marla Silliman, medical doctor Monica Reed, singer Wintley Phipps and other faith representatives from the community. Suggested donation to attend: $35 (with proceeds benefiting the Jenni Yoon Buchanan, MD, Breast Cancer Care Fund). Click here for more information and to register.
Central Florida Ranks #1 in U.S. Homelessness
rethink homelessness 2Andrae Bailey, chief executive officer of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, recently shared data from a November 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development indicating that, based on regions comparably sized, Central Florida is now ranked #1 in the United States for Chronic Homelessness and #8 for Family Homelessness. “It proves we have much work ahead of us,” Bailey says. The upside is that a lot is being done. On January 22, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, along with Osceola County Government and Community Vision, hosted a half-day State of Homelessness in Osceola County Summit. More than 300 people from the business, faith and non-profit sectors attended, as well as the media.World Religions Club Featuring Golden Rule Discussion
The World Religions Club at Seminole State College is featuring a discussion of the Golden Rule from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspective. The event–titled “Living the Golden Rule: How to Be a Peacemaker in Dangerous Times”–is being held on Monday, March 3, from 2:30 to 4:00 pm at Building C, Room 110B, on the Sanford Campus of Seminole State College. Refreshments will be available. To register for the event, go toEventbrite.Islamic Group Hosting Array of Activities for PublicCenter for Peace
The Islamic Society of Central Florida offers a variety of activities designed specifically with the non-Muslim community in mind.  These include: (1) an ongoing series of presentations called “Pursuit of Peace: Introduction to Islam,” which runs each Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm;  (2) a fourth-Saturday-of-each-month-single-event “Open House Invitational” that gives a general overview of Islam and includes an international meal; (3) an annual “Building Bridges and Breaking Bread Banquet” that introduces non-Muslims to Ramadan; and (4) an array of other special events such as the “World of Knowledge Interfaith Trip to Turkey,” which will be leaving in May. For more information or to sign up for any or all of these events, go toEventbrite.

Jewish, Muslim and Christian Youth Work Together
2nd Harvest 2In a report posted on the Second Harvest website, director Dave Krepcho states: “Seventy youth volunteered to live out the value of service. What was extra-special about the group is that it was an interfaith service project. Students from the Jewish AcademyLeader’s Prep and the Geneva School all pitched in enthusiastically to sort food for Second Harvest. . . . In a time when a lot of news focuses on division, this activity shines a bright light on what we have in common and working side-by-side. What is particularly refreshing about this group is that they showed that all major faiths have something in common, that we need to help less fortunate people. What a great example to the greater community. . . . The last words of President Lincoln’s first inaugural speech mentioned our ‘better angels’. He was referring to the qualities of empathy, cooperation and altruism in society. I think I saw some wings on the backs of these kids.”
The Sabbath Commandment and Modern Employee JusticeHoward Curzer 2
In an article titled “The Sabbath Commandment and the Minimum Wage,” Howard J. Curzer, professor of philosophy at Texas Tech University, suggests that the Sabbath Commandment as presented in Deuteronomy 5:12-15–as opposed to the Exodus 20:8-11 version–has something to say about fairness for today’s employees. “The Sabbath commandment was revolutionary when it was introduced, says Curzer. “Addressing people with servants, slaves and beasts of burden, the Sabbath commandment demanded that they allow their workers a weekly vacation day. Since workers in the ancient world worked seven days per week, 52 weeks per year (with rare festival days off), the Sabbath commandment was probably a major blow to the ancient elites. Not only did it reduce the profitability of slaves, it also reduced the psychological gap between rich and poor, for once each week the poor could rest, just like the rich. From the perspective of the ancient workers, the Sabbath commandment provided a huge benefit-package increase.” Of course, Curzer says a lot more in his article, which you can read in full at the Huffington Post.

Hindu Group Inviting Public to March 9 Banquet
Hindu Society of Central FL 2The New Age Group (which is a creative name for the “senior group”) of the Hindu Society of Central Florida is inviting the public to join them at a banquet they’re hosting at 5:00 pm on March 9 at the Community Room of the Hindu Society of Central Florida (1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707). The event features good food and excellent entertainment, and all ages are invited. The prior-booked-and-paid-in-advance charge is $12 per person for members of the New Age Group, and $15 for non-members. The charge at the door is $20 per person. Please RSVP no later than March 4 and send your check to HSCF New Age Group, C/O Jayant Vaidya, 409 Eastbridge Drive, Oviedo, FL 32765. For more information, phone: Madan Arora, 407-971-9259; Dev Sharma, 407-862-9920; Jayant Vaidya, 407-977-1826.

“Friends Talking Faith” Radio Program Schedule3 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 complicated aspects of life. “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. March’s programs are:

“LIFE: BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS” (a six-program series)

  • March 4:   Faith and Religion: Beginning of Life–Faith Rituals  (third of six)
  • March 11:  Faith and Society: End of Life and Hospice  (fourth of six)
  • March 18:  Faith and Religion: End of Life–Faith Rituals  (fifth of six)
  • March 25:  Faith and Culture: Prolonging Life and Euthanasia  (sixth of six)

Interfaith Discussion to Be Held March 12
Voltaire is credited with saying: “If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor.” Voltaire’s comment sets the scene well for the March 12 Interfaith Discussion. TheVoltaire 4springboard questions are: “Did God create Humans? Did humans create God? Could it be both?” The discussion group meets from 7:00 to 8:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at Adventist University of Health Sciences 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.

March and Rally to Try to Bring Publix on Board
CIWActivists from Central Florida and elsewhere are continuing their efforts to convince the Florida foodstore chainPublix to join the Fair Food Program. By doing so, Publix could greatly improve the lot of the agricultural workers who labor for minuscule wages in Florida’s fields so we can have affordable quality produce on our tables. On Saturday, March 15, local church groups are sponsoring two buses to Lakeland to participate in the conclusion of a march and rally at the corporate headquarters of Publix in support of the Coalition of Immokallee Workers. One bus will leave Orlando at 10:00 am and return at 8:30 pm. The the other will leave Winter Park at 11:30 am and return at 7:15 pm. To ride either bus, please contact More details are available at and This project is funded in part by the Standing on the Side of Love Matching Grants Program of the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility.

Muslim to Address Quran’s Teaching on Obligation to Poor
On Monday, March 17, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm at the Alafaya Branch Library (12000 East Colonial Drive, Orlando) Dr. Ishaq Zahid will review verses from the Quran and examples from the life of the Prophet Muhammad that show how to eradicate poverty. The presentation is organized by the Orlando chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America(ICNA). The event is free and open to the public. Register by email or phone 407-479-8856,
Religion 201 Series to Continue on March 18
Holocaust-Center-Photo-Edited_thumbThe Holocaust Center and the Interfaith Council are partnering in a nine-part, once-a-month series highlighting the diversity of religious thought and worldviews in Central Florida. The seventh in the series will be on Tuesday night, March 18. The theme: “Is Your Faith Tradition the Only Path to Heaven/Nirvana?” Does your faith view itself as having any sort of monopoly on truth and the path to “salvation”? If so, how does that affect how you relate to those of other faith traditions or those of no faith? The moderator will be the Rev. Kathy Schmitz. Presenters will represent the Muslim, Buddhist and Baha’i faith traditions. The event runs from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at the Holocaust Center (851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751). The dates, topics and participating faith traditions for all nine presentations/panels are available at the Holocaust Center website.

Al-Qaida Leader Says not to Attack Egyptian Christiansn-ZAWAHRI-large570 2
From an article in the Huffington Post: “Al-Qaida’s leader says that Egypt’s majority Muslims should not fight their Christian compatriots, even though the head of their church supported a military coup that deposed the Islamist president. . . . In an audio message posted on militant websites early Saturday, Ayman al-Zawahri said it was not in the interest of Muslims to be engaged with the Christians because ‘we have to be busy with confronting the Americanized coup of (Gen. Abdel-Fattah) el-Sissi and establish an Islamic government instead.’”

Author of Bioethics Book to Speak at Colloquium
Rebecca SklootRebecca Skloot, author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, will be featured as an Adventist University of Health Sciences Colloquium speaker at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, March 19. Skloot specializes in narrative science writing and has worked as a correspondent for WNYC’s Radiolab and PBS’s NOVA ScienceNOW. The inspiration for her book, Henrietta Lacks, “was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells–taken without her knowledge in 1951–became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance,” according to Rebecca Skloot’s website. The book “tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine. . . . It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African-Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of.” The event will be held at Florida Hospital Seventh-day Adventist Church (2800 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32804). Click here for a Map to the church and a Parking Map. The event is free and the public is invited. RSVP at Eventbrite.

Bible Society Survey Ranks Cities’ “Bible-Mindedness”
The Huffington Post reports the following: “The American Bible Society released a ranking of the nation’s cities, from most to least ‘Bible-mindedness.’ They classified respondentsBible 4who reported reading the Bible within the past seven days and who agreed strongly in the accuracy of the Bible as ‘Bible-minded.’” The top ten cities are: (1) Chattanooga, Tenn. (2) Birmingham, Ala. (3) Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va. (4) Springfield, Mo. (5) Shreveport, La. (6) Charlotte, N.C. (7) Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C./Asheville, N.C. (8) Little Rock, Ark. (9) Jackson, Miss. (10) Knoxville, Tenn. The ten least Bible-minded cities are: (1) Providence, R.I./New Bedford, Mass. (2) Albany, N.Y. (3) Boston, Mass. (4) San Francisco, Calif. (5) Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (6) Buffalo, N.Y. (7) Hartford/New Haven, Conn. (8) Phoenix, Ariz. (9) Burlington, Vt. (10) Portland, Maine. For a more complete ranking, go to the website of the Barna Group, which conducted the survey.

Florida’s Sinkholes and Other Underground Mysteries
You’ve no doubt read a lot lately about Central Florida’s water crisis. Have you ever wondered how sinkholes fit into the picture? What causes them, anyway? Fortunately,Friends of the Wekiva RiverWekiwa Springs State Park and Wekiva Wilderness Trust are teaming up to answer just such questions. In fact, they’re even offering to take you by tram to the largest sinkhole in Wekiwa Springs State Park as part of their explanation (directions to park here). Come learn about Florida’s unique water resource and geology on Saturday, March 22. Tram Tours to the sinkhole start at 12:00 noon. The program itself runs from 3:00 to 5:00 pm at the Wekiwa Springs State Park’s Sinkhole Pavilion. The program is free, but State Park admission applies: $4 for one person; $6 for 2-8 persons in one car. For further information contact Deede Sharpe or John Parker at 407-647-7487 ( or Don Philpott at 321-277-8442 (; or visit

Military More Accommodating to Religion-Required Attire
What are people to do who want to honor their country by serving in the military but whose religion mandates dress or grooming that violates the military’s uniform code? The short answer: Do your homework before joining. But also take heart. A new, more-open “instruction” concerning religiously mandated dress and grooming was released by the Pentagon on January 22. The military is now seeking to accommodate such practices “unless they have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline,” according to a Defense Department spokesman, the Huffington Post reports. But the relaxation of policy isn’t a blanket guarantee, notes Amardeep Singh, a spokesman for the Sikh Coalition. “So a Sikh can’t just sort of enlist in the U.S. military and expect that they won’t down the line have to make the false choice between their faith and their service to the country.”

Interfaith Council Director to Speak at First Methodist
JimCoffin-e1376129362491James Coffin, executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, will speak at the NU Class (NU is lightheartedly said to stand for Nothing Unchallenged!) at First United Methodist Church of Orlando (142 East Jackson Street, Orlando, FL 32801) at 9:30 am on Sunday, March 30. The title of Coffin’s presentation is “Religious Liberty, Civil Rights and Other Things in the News.”

Award-Winning Author to Speak at Temple Israel
Award-winning author Mary Glickman will speak at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, April 2, in theMary GlickmanRoth Social Hall at Temple Israel (50 South Moss Road, Winter Springs, FL 32708). Ms. Glickman is the author of three books:Home in the Morning, which has been optioned for film; One More River, a 2011 National Jewish Book Award finalist and a 2012 Women’s League for Conservative Judaism’s Orpah Selection; and her most recent, Marching to Zion, published in 2013. Ms. Glickman will share details of her journey into Judaism and the deepening of her thoughts on race in America and Jewish/African-American relations. Her books, set in the South throughout the 20th century, explore the intersection of the Southern Jewish experience, the Civil Rights Movement and the confluence of Jewish and African-American cultures. The event ($10 per person) includes a dessert reception. Or you can become a sponsor: $36 includes admission and a book of your choice, and $56 provides admission and all three books.

Hindu University to Host Buddhist Meditation Workshop
chenrezigtop_1Mark Winwood, founder and resident teacher of theChenrezig Project, a Tibetan Buddhist study and practice group in Lake County, and an adjunct professor of Buddhism at both Lake Sumter State College and Hindu University of America, will host a workshop on “the philosophies and methods of the meditative path to enlightenment,” on Saturday, April 5, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at Hindu University (113 South Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, FL 32825). The workshop will combine lecture, discussion and actual practice to teach the fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhist meditation. “This course will be beneficial for both experienced and beginning meditators,” event organizers say. “And while employing Tibetan Buddhist techniques, it will be helpful for anyone wishing to integrate meditation into their lives regardless of their religious or spiritual preference.” For more information or to register, phone 908-421-5946 or send an email.

Save the Date for the OCPS Parent Academy in May
Orange County Public Schools is inviting faith-based organizations and houses of worship to OCPShelp spread the word about its series of Parent Academy workshops, which are designed to promote parental involvement and enhance student achievement. The Parent Academy focuses on three primary tracks: Student Achievement, Parenting and Advocacy and Personal and Individual Growth. The last Parent Academy of the 2013-2014 school year will take place May 17 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at Olympia High School (4301 South Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando, FL 32835). The theme the May event is Making the Most of Summer. Reservations are required and can be made through your local school or online. Lunch is served at Parent Academy events, and childcare is provided free of charge. Mark your calendars and make your reservation now so you don’t miss out on this fun, educational event that can be a great help to your children.
Your Tax-Deductible Contributions Always Appreciated
Despite what you’ve been told, death and taxes aren’t life’s only certainties. There’s at least one more: Nonprofits are always looking for contributions to sustain the good work they’re doing. The Interfaith Council of Central FloridaFriends Talking Faith With the Three Wise Guys radio program, Building US and the just-emerging InterDiversity Institute–all of which work closely together–invite those who are blessed by the contribution we make to the community to help us in return. All contributions are tax-deductible and may be sent to: PO Box 3310, Winter Park, FL 32790-3310. Indicate which of the four entities above you wish to receive the benefit of your gift.

Sikh 2Sikh Reflection
When in time, in what age, in what day of the month or week
In what season and in what month did’st Thou create the world?
The Pundits do not know or they would have written it in the Puranas;
The Qazis do not know, or they would have recorded it in the Koran;
Nor do the Yogis know the moment of the day,
Nor the day of the week or month, nor the month nor the season.
Only God who made the world knows when He made it.
–from the Hymns of Guru Nanak (1469 -1539)

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