Category Archives: BAIC

BAIC September 2017

Bay Area Interfaith ConnectThe Interfaith Center at the Presidio links the power of interreligious cooperation by welcoming, serving, and celebrating the diverse wisdom and faith traditions of the Bay Area.

IN THIS ISSUE: International Day of Peace | Responding to HateChapel Tours Around the Bay| Parliament 2018 | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscribe to BAIC

dove and ICP logoINTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE

September 21 again marks the International Day of Peace, declared by the United Nations and observed in many ways all around the world. This year’s theme is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”

A celebration of International Peace Day will take place at the Presidio Chapel, honoring the Roots of Peace “Mines to Vines” project that works to remove landmines and restore the soil with bountiful vineyards & orchards in war-torn regions worldwide. Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 4:00 pm, Presidio Chapel, 130 Fisher Loop, Presidio, San Francisco. Sponsors include ICP, the San Francisco Interfaith Council, and United Religions Initiative.

Learn more about the International Day of Peace, see a map of observances planned, and the U.N. “Join Together” program at internationaldayofpeace.org/

ICPRESPONDING TO HATRED

Love Lives in MarinThe events in Charlottesville in August, potential demonstrations by “alt-right” groups in San Francisco and Berkeley, and vandalism against a synagogue in Alameda all prompted responses by the wider interfaith community. They declared their continued commitment to the work of building relationships of trust, respect and appreciation among the diverse communities of the Bay Area and across the nation. See more on the ICP website about these stories:

Responding to Charlottesville” – statements from the Interfaith Council of Alameda County, the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County, ING (Islamic Networks Group), Marin Interfaith Council, San Francisco Interfaith Council, Silicon Valley Interreligious Council and the United Religions Initiative.

A vigil in Alameda offered support after the synagogue was vandalized.

An Interfaith Gathering for Peace and Against Hate drew over 1,000 people to Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco.

Over 350 people gathered for “Love Lives In Marin,” an interfaith prayer service.

In San Jose, interfaith leaders gathered with the Mayor of San Jose, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, US Representative Zoe Lofgren and other civic leaders for a Unity Prayer Service. See video here.

ICPPresidio ChapelDOCENT TOURS OF PRESIDIO CHAPEL. Summertime is a great time to enjoy the Open House/Docent Tours at the Presidio Chapel each Sunday from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm. Come and view the historic 33′ fresco painted by Victor Arnautoff, a protegé of Diego Rivera, and the stained glass windows created by Willemina Ogterop, the first woman stained glass artist west of the Mississippi to be inducted into the Stained Glass Artists Guild. Our docent, Daniel Johnson, serves to make your visit memorable and informative. The open house is listed on the Presidio Trust’s website with other guided tours. Learn more about the Presidio Chapel here and then plan to visit us and take a tour.

ICPAROUND THE BAY AREA:

  • San Francisco Interfaith Council Executive Director Michael Pappas received a delegation from City College of San Francisco’s Interdisciplinary Studies Department to discuss ways in which the SFIC might be a resource, collaborate and promote course study of religion at this academic institution. Pictured left to right: Professor Emeritus Abdul Jabbar; Iftekhar Hai, President, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance; Professor Lauren Muller, Chair of the CCSF Interdisciplinary Studies Department; SFIC Executive Director Michael Pappas; and Professor Steve Georgiou, who teaches comparative religion and spirituality at CCSF.

  • The current issue of “Argonaut,” the Journal of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society features an article about Victor Arnautoff, the creator of the mural in the Presidio Chapel, and his work at another San Francisco landmark- Coit Tower.

Victor Arnautoff

ICPParliament of the World's ReligionsPARLIAMENT OF THE WORLD”S RELIGIONS

Toronto,  Canada
November 1-7, 2018

“The Promise of Inclusion & the Power of Love” will be the theme for the 125th anniversary gathering of the Parliament, Program proposals will be sought soon. Super-saver pre-registration fees are available until September 30. The Parliament is a unique opportunity to meet people engaged in interfaith work from around the world. Mark the dates now, and watch for more news to come! Find out more at the Parliament website.

ICPNOTES & QUOTES:  Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering ~Parker Palmer… “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war” – Maria Montessori…”‘We call each other Dear brother,’ and it’s not just a saying. We have such open, deep and affectionate conversations. We understand each other”- Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the “Pope’s Rabbi,” speaking of his friend Pope Francis…

ICPSEND US YOUR NEWS! We at Bay Area Interfaith Connect make every effort to include upcoming interfaith events in our monthly calendar (which is always available on our website). Please be sure to send information about your upcoming events to .img@.img. We’d also like to share what happened at your events or celebrations with the wider interfaith community. Got a story you’d like to share? Pictures from that latest gathering? Send them along and let everyone know what’s happening!

ICPBAY AREA INTERRELIGIOUS CALENDAR

Our searchable new calendar page offers listings of interfaith opportunities for learning, celebration, taking action, and celebrating the diverse religious traditions of the Bay Area. The calendar can be viewed as a list, as a monthly calendar page, or by the week.

ICPSPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES

CHARTER FOR COMPASSION WEBINAR: Global Read: Arun Wakhlu — One Wholesome World Arun is a Charter for Compassion partner and founder of Compassionate Pune, India. Our identification with limited notions of who we are is at the roots of the present global crisis. We have forgotten our intrinsic Wholeness. The time has now come for a new paradigm of development. When we awaken to wholeness and live and work from a space of love, creative intelligence, freedom, and peace; we become instrumental in manifesting joy, peace, and abundance in our life and in the collective. This astonishingly simple and universally accessible discovery will transform lives in miraculous ways. September 19, 2017 8:00 AM, Pacific Standard Time. Register here.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY SEEKS FAITH RELATIONS COORDINATOR.  Habitat for Humanity of the San Francisco Bay Area is seeking a Resource Development VISTA, with a focus area of Faith Relations. The primary responsibility will be to complete the development of their interfaith program. To find out more, go to www.habitat.org/about/careers/hfh-greater-san-francisco-vista-resource-dev-faith-relations
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS WEBINARS. Know Your Neighbors: Multifaith Encounters has launched a webinar series in an effort to share interfaith ideas and resources within and outside of the coalition. Past webinars and resources shared by the participants are available, as well as links to upcoming webinars that are available to join. Sessions now available include:
  • Grounding, Re-focus, and Living the Best Expressions of our Faiths
  • “Meet a Muslim” and Other Ways to Address Islamophobia in Your Community
  • Interfaith 101: First Steps in Building Interfaith Relations
  • Interfaith Dinner Dialogues: How to Host in Your Community
  • Demystifying Sikhism, Hinduism, and Islam
  • How to Engage in Interfaith Work During Ramadan: Know Your Neighbor Webinar

ICPBAY AREA INTERFAITH CONNECT is sent each month to nearly 2,000 subscribers, and is available online at the Interfaith Center at the Presidio website.

Subscribe to BAIC

About the Editor: D. Andrew Kille is director of Interfaith Space in San Jose, working to develop and strengthen interfaith relations throughout the Bay Area. Send your calendar items, comments and suggestions to .img@.img. We try to keep the ICP Update and Calendar as current as we can, but if you want your item included in the monthly newsletter, it needs to be in our hands a week before the end of the month.

BAIC August 2017

Bay Area Interfaith ConnectThe Interfaith Center at the Presidio links the power of interreligious cooperation by welcoming, serving, and celebrating the diverse wisdom and faith traditions of the Bay Area.

IN THIS ISSUE: International VIsitors | Chapel Tours  | Yezidi GalaNAINConnect 2017 | Around the Bay| URI Internships | Parliament 2018 | The Interfaith Observer | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscribe to BAIC

Interfaith Center at the PresidioBoth because of the beauty of the Presidio Chapel and the uniqueness of the interfaith work that the Center enables, the Interfaith Center at the Presidio is often host to visiting delegations from around the world.That was the case recently when 13 emerging national leaders from 10 African nations were invited to participate in a United States Department of State International Leadership Program to learn about Diversity, Multiculturalism, and Interfaith Dialogue.

Among those who visited ICP on July 26 were representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Mauritania, and a newswoman from France. They were met by Rita Semel of the ICP Board, and Michael Pappas of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, whose office is in the Presidio Chapel.

The International Leadership Program is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Participants are nominated by the staff at U.S. Embassies around the world, and typically visit four U.S. communities over three weeks, meeting with local organizations related to their area of interest.

Delegation from Africa with Rita Semel and Michael Pappas

Rita Semel and Michael Pappas with African delegates.

ICPPresidio ChapelDOCENT TOURS OF PRESIDIO CHAPEL. Summertime is a great time to enjoy the Open House/Docent Tours at the Presidio Chapel each Sunday from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm. Come and view the historic 33′ fresco painted by Victor Arnautoff, a protegé of Diego Rivera, and the stained glass windows created by Willemina Ogterop, the first woman stained glass artist west of the Mississippi to be inducted into the Stained Glass Artists Guild. Our docent, Daniel Johnson, serves to make your visit memorable and informative. The open house is listed on the Presidio Trust’s website with other guided tours. Learn more about the Presidio Chapel here and then plan to visit us and take a tour.

 

ICPYezidi imageINTERFAITH GALA FOR YEZIDI RELIEF. ICP has been a part of the coalition of interfaith groups around the Bay speaking out for the Yezidis, victims of genocide in Northern Iraq.  There will be a Gala Dessert Reception to raise funds for relief efforts on Tuesday, August 29, 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City. We will be honoring Rev. Victor Kazanjian, Jr., Director of the United Religions Initiative; Rabbi Marvin Goodman, Board of Rabbis of Northern California; and Fatih Ates, Pacifica Instititue. The keynote speaker will be Salem Daoud, head Yezidi religious leader for the United States and Canada. Come help the Yezidis! More information

 

ICPNAINConnect 20172017 NAINCONNECT. ICP Board President Fred Fielding will be attending the 2017 NAINConnect, the annual gathering of the North American Interfaith Network. Representatives of interfaith groups from Canada, the United States, and Mexico will gather in San Diego from August 6-10.

In addition to a distinguished lineup of speakers and workshop leaders, several young adults have been chosen to participate on the young adult panel. This year’s group, representing the upcoming generation of interfaith activists, includes Tavleen Kaur,  Tahil Sharma, Farhana Nizam, Miranda Hovemeyer, Sara Rahim, and Megan Weiss. Find out more about these Young Adult Leaders at the NAIN website.

ICPAROUND THE BAY AREA:

  • Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice in Palo Alto is organizing a response network to respond quickly with publicly visible acts of solidarity on behalf of any religious, ethnic, or other vulnerable communities in their local area which are being threatened, or which have been harmed or violated in some way. See details at the MVPJ website.
  • Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County has been presenting “The Defusing Hatred Program” to teach nonviolent communication skills in a safe environment and develop tools for responding touneasy situations and hate speech. Find out more at ICCC
  • Marin Interfaith Council offers a Monthly Interfaith Meditation every second Wednesday, featuring a leader from a different spiritual community leading a meditation or spiritual practice and explaining how it flows from the basic tenets of his/her faith tradition. See the calendar listings for specifics.

ICPUnited Religions InitiativeURI INTERNSHIPS. United Religions Initiative North America is seeking exceptionally dynamic and self-motivated individuals to fill two remote internship positions for Fall 2017. Both positions are hands-on and provide practical work experience. There is a possibility of receiving academic credit. Applicants of any age and academic level are welcome. The two available positions are: Public Relations/Storytelling Intern andSocial Media Intern. They are accepting applications for these unpaid internships on a rolling basis with a priority deadline of August 13, 2017. For more information on these internships positions, click here. 

ICPParliament of the World's ReligionsPARLIAMENT OF THE WORLD”S RELIGIONS

Toronto,  Canada
November 1-7, 2018

The Parliament is a unique opportunity to meet people engaged in interfaith work from around the world. Mark the dates now, and watch for more news to come! Find out more at the Parliament website.

ICPThe Interfaith ObserverTHE INTERFAITH OBSERVER

No way to capture these articles with a single theme, and that tells you something about the state of interfaith affairs in the world. The past 50 years represent a sea change. We have gone from a time when pundits were still predicting the end of religion, when the word interfaith drew a blank stare from most people, to the current proliferation of stories of about religion and interreligion. In the meantime interfaith has entered the common lexicon. Enjoy the “Potpourri in the Midst of Disruption.”

The Interfaith Observer (TIO) is an independent internet journal about all things interfaith. Each month TIO goes to more than 12,000 faith and interfaith leaders, including about 2,300 outside the U.S. More than 350 writers have contributed articles. Download back issues. Subscribe for free.

ICPNOTES & QUOTES: “Religious diversity in America is not just pluralism, but rather, pluralisms within pluralism. Religions and faith traditions should not just be simply understood as singular entities, but as countless spectra of varied beliefs and practices unto themselves. ” – Anthony Harrison…”God has given us many faiths but only one world in which to co-exist. May your work help all of us cherish our commonalities and feel enlarged by our differences.” Lord Jonathan Sacks

ICPSEND US YOUR NEWS! We at Bay Area Interfaith Connect make every effort to include upcoming interfaith events in our monthly calendar (which is always available on our website). Please be sure to send information about your upcoming events to .img@.img. We’d also like to share what happened at your events or celebrations with the wider interfaith community. Got a story you’d like to share? Pictures from that latest gathering? Send them along and let everyone know what’s happening!

ICPBAY AREA INTERRELIGIOUS CALENDAR

Our searchable new calendar page offers listings of interfaith opportunities for learning, celebration, taking action, and celebrating the diverse religious traditions of the Bay Area. The calendar can be viewed as a list, as a monthly calendar page, or by the week.

ICPSPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES

KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS WEBINARS. Know Your Neighbors: Multifaith Encounters has launched a webinar series in an effort to share interfaith ideas and resources within and outside of the coalition. Past webinars and resources shared by the participants are available, as well as links to upcoming webinars that are available to join. Sessions now available include:

  • Grounding, Re-focus, and Living the Best Expressions of our Faiths
  • “Meet a Muslim” and Other Ways to Address Islamophobia in Your Community
  • Interfaith 101: First Steps in Building Interfaith Relations
  • Interfaith Dinner Dialogues: How to Host in Your Community
  • Demystifying Sikhism, Hinduism, and Islam
  • How to Engage in Interfaith Work During Ramadan: Know Your Neighbor Webinar

From July 20-27, Know Your Neighbors conducted a special Social Media project. See what came up at Twitter and Facebook.

TAPPING INTO GOD. Debbie Belmessieri, author of  Tapping Into God: Experiencing the Spiritual Spectrum, is raising funds to produce the second episode of a film series based on her book. The series features practitioners of diverse faith traditions (who were profiled in the book) coming together for a spontaneous dialogue in order to find commonalities. After completing the pilot episode, they were inspired to find that two people of different faiths could interact and support each other in a way where no one was made to feel right or wrong.  Viewers will come away with a better understanding of how deeply our humanity unites us in spite of our apparent differences. More information and a chance to support the effort can be found at GoFundMe.

ICPBAY AREA INTERFAITH CONNECT is sent each month to nearly 2,000 subscribers, and is available online at the Interfaith Center at the Presidio website.

Subscribe to BAIC

About the Editor: D. Andrew Kille is director of Interfaith Space in San Jose, working to develop and strengthen interfaith relations throughout the Bay Area. Send your calendar items, comments and suggestions to .img@.img. We try to keep the ICP Update and Calendar as current as we can, but if you want your item included in the monthly newsletter, it needs to be in our hands a week before the end of the month.

BAIC July 2017

Bay Area Interfaith ConnectThe Interfaith Center at the Presidio links the power of interreligious cooperation by welcoming, serving, and celebrating the diverse wisdom and faith traditions of the Bay Area.

IN THIS ISSUE: America’s Sacred Ground| Arnautoff Book | NAINConnect 2017 | Around the Bay| GTU Exhibits Vestments | Parliament 2018 | The Interfaith Observer | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscribe to BAIC

Interfaith Center at the PresidioCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .
First Amendment, United States Constitution

The Fourth of July is not only a time for picnics, barbecues, and fireworks. It is also a time when the people of the United States give thanks for the freedoms that we enjoy. Among those is the freedom to believe and worship freely. In these days, freedom of worship and the necessary respect for all religious traditions is being sorely tried.

According to Barbara A. McGraw, what lies at the core of the American experience is freedom of conscience– she calls it “America’s Sacred Ground.” McGraw, director of the Center for Engaged Pluralism at St. Mary’s College in Moraga and a familiar participant in interfaith conversations in the Bay Area, writes in her book Rediscovering America’s Sacred Ground (SUNY Press, 2003):

It is safe to say that freedom of conscience generally was considered by the founders to be the most important of the inalienable rights. In fact, freedom of conscience had been recognized as inalienable in the state constitutions and declarations of rights even before freedom of speech had been so recognized [81].

Some still argue that the Founders of this nation had only Christians in mind when securing religious liberty, but it is clear that many understood, like Richard Henry Lee, that “. . . we are not disposed to differ much, at present, about religion: but when we are making a constitution, it is to be hoped, for ages and millions yet unborn, why not establish the free exercise of religion, as a part of the national compact?” Such freedom “embraces the Mahomitan [Moslem] and the Gentoo [Hindu] as well as the Christian religion” [83].

So how ever you may celebrate this July 4th, take a moment to give thanks for the gift of religious freedom established by those whose vision was broad enough to enable us to seek our own consciences and to explore ways to work together for the good of all.

ICPVICTOR ARNAUTOFF BOOK

Victor Arnautoff and the Politics of ArtA new book has been published about Victor Arnautoff, the artist who created the mural in the Post Chapel. Written by California historian Robert Cherney, Victor Arnautoff and the Politics of Art is not only a biography of the muralist who created many projects at the Presidio, Coit Tower and elswhere, but places his art in the context of the social and political tenor of the times.

Commissioned in 1935, the Chapel mural shows an image of St. Francis, patron saint of San Francisco, flanked by panels devoted to the early history of California and activities of the Army of the day, along with development of the Golden Gate Bridge. Find out more about Arnautoff and the Chapel mural in this brochure.

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BAIC June 2017

Bay Area Interfaith ConnectThe Interfaith Center at the Presidio links the power of interreligious cooperation by welcoming, serving, and celebrating the diverse wisdom and faith traditions of the Bay Area.

IN THIS ISSUE: Memorial Day Service| Post Chapel Improvements | “Remembered Light” in Germany | Ramadan Begins | NAINConnect 2017 | Around the Bay| Parliament 2018 | The Interfaith Observer | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscribe to BAIC

Interfaith Center at the PresidioMEMORIAL DAY SERVICE AT ICP. Since its founding in 1995, the Interfaith Center at the Presidio has been housed in the historic Main Post Chapel building. Continuing the tradition of interfaith religious celebrations in this space, ICP sponsored an interfaith Service on Memorial Day, May 29. Following ceremonies in the Presidio cemetery next to the chapel, the service opened with a greeting from Camilla Smith of the ICP Board, and included a statement from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office,. Then came a reading of Dylan Thomas’ “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” by Brian Voglass. A meditation by Sensei Elaine Donlin of the Buddhist Church of San Francisco was followed by the Kaddish prayer from the Jewish tradition, offered by Board Member Rita Semel. Music was provided by Erich Sylvester, a resident of the Presidio.  Over the years, ICP has been honored to offer this sacred space to people of all religious backgrounds as a safe space for prayer, reflection, and renewal. Some photos from the service can be seen here.

ICP POST CHAPEL IMPROVEMENTS. The Presidio Trust, which is charged with the management of the buildings and grounds of the Presidio, is making some improvements to the chapel. They will be installing an interpretive wayside about the chapel outside the Mural Room and are making the memorial garden ADA compliant. Work began about 2 weeks ago on this project and is progressing.

See more…

BAIC May 2017

Bay Area Interfaith ConnectThe Interfaith Center at the Presidio links the power of interreligious cooperation by welcoming, serving, and celebrating the diverse wisdom and faith traditions of the Bay Area.

IN THIS ISSUE: Farewell to Linda Crawford | Intrafaith Peacebuilding | Girl Scout Sunday | Meet Your Neighbor in SF | NAINConnect 2017 | Around the Bay| GTU Art Exhibit| Know Your Neighbor | The Interfaith Observer | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscribe to BAIC

Interfaith Center at the PresidioFAREWELL AND THANK YOU TO LINDA CRAWFORD

Linda Crawford stepped down as the Executive Director of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio at the end of April. Over the past ten years Linda has helped ICP in supporting interfaith efforts in the Bay Area, and preserving the historic Presidio Chapel. She fostered strong relationships with the Presidio Trust, interfaith councils, and many community organizations to serve the ICP mission. She used her talents and shared her gifts in many ways to the benefit of our interfaith communities and beyond.

Linda Crawford at Peace in the Park

Linda Crawford (l) at Peace in the Park

A few of the highlights include organizing the “Sounds of Peace” concert in celebration of the International Day of Peace in 2013, coordinating the display of McDonald Windows at the Parliament of the World’s Religions 2015 gathering in Salt Lake City, and most recently, playing a pivotal role in the formation of the Interfaith Council of Alameda County.

On behalf of the ICP Board, we thank her for her many years of service, and wish her much success and personal fulfillment in her next endeavors.

Blessings,
Fred Fielding, ICP Board President

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BAIC April 2017

Bay Area Interfaith Connect

The Interfaith Center at the Presidio links the power of interreligious cooperation by welcoming, serving, and celebrating the diverse wisdom and faith traditions of the Bay Area.

IN THIS ISSUE: Changes at ICP | NAINConnect 2017 | Around the Bay| GTU Art Exhibit| Historic Bible Display | The Interfaith Observer | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscribe to BAIC

Interfaith Center at the PresidioChanges at the Interfaith Center at the Presidio. As you can see, Bay Area Interfaith Connect has a new look. Our previous publication system was not keeping up with the proliferation of phones, pads, and other screens that required a more flexible layout. We hope that this new format will prove even more useful as we bring the news about interreligious cooperation around the Bay Area and beyond. Be sure to add “.img@.img” to your contact list so that you can enjoy all that the Connect offers.


Linda CrawfordICP Executive Director to step down. Linda Crawford, who has served ICP in several capacities and most recently as Executive Director, has announced her intention to step down in June. Linda began ten years ago leading the Capital Campaign for the Chapel rehabilitation project. She was named Managing Director by the Board in February of 2012 and Executive Director in 2015. Linda says, “After 10 years at the Interfaith Center and with much soul-searching, I have decided that the time has come to move on to the next chapter in my life. It was a very difficult decision to make; I’ve loved what I’ve been doing. Finally, I listened to that “still small voice”. (1 Kings 19:12, Hebrew Bible)”

We are grateful for all Linda has done for ICP during her decade in leadership, and will cherish all the more these last months of working with her.

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BAIC March 2017

Bay Area Interfaith Connect

The Interfaith Center at the Presidio links the power of interreligious cooperation by welcoming, serving, and celebrating the diverse wisdom and faith traditions of the Bay Area.

IN THIS ISSUE: Regional Interfaith Response | Family Fun at ICP | INTRAFaith Book Study | Speaking Up: Rita Semel | East Bay Cooperation | NAINConnect 2017 | The Interfaith Observer | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscription Info

Interfaith Center at the PresidioLeaders of Interfaith Councils from Sonoma to San Jose convened at the Presidio on February 6 to consider ways that we might work together in the future to address the rising concerns about governmental policies and public opinion that seem to be creating an environment of hostility and anger directed at religious minorities, immigrant groups, and others. Convened by the Interfaith Center, the meeting was hosted at the United Religions Initiative headquarters to make use of their teleconferencing capabilities, allowing even more people to check in via phone and computer.

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Why Interfaith?

GInterfaith Center at the Presidioiven that this site is devoted to promoting interfaith events in the Bay Area and beyond, it was great to read an article by Joran Slane Oppelt, co-founder of the Integral Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, in which he lays out the “Top 5 Reasons You Should Attend Interfaith Events.” What are those reasons? Resolving conflict; expanding awareness within your community; caring for grassroots work in your community; a chance to meet interesting people and have good conversations; and, it’s becoming popular.

Every month in the Bay Area Interfaith Connect, we share a wealth of opportunities to join with others in discussions and events that will do all those things. We can develop meaningful relationships with our neighbors, increase our knowledge of one another, and thus build appreciation. According to the Interfaith Youth Core, “knowledge and relationships are the primary drivers of positive attitudes. And people with positive attitudes toward religious diversity will seek more appreciative knowledge and meaningful relationships.”

Unlike the vicious circle of hatred, violence, and revenge, the circle of relationship, knowledge, and appreciation leads us deeper into understanding, respect, and the capacity to care for our whole world. Check out the listings at ICP and take some time to engage and feed your spirit!

Interfaith Center at the Presidio

Pluralism or…

Interfaith Center at the PresidioIn a report about the NAIN Connect gathering in Detroit last August published at State of Formation, Ellie Anders describes a generational difference concerning how people speak about interreligious relationships. She sees it as a difference between “relativism” and “pluralism.” Of the former, she observes, “[o]ver and over again we heard phrases like ‘we all have the same God/gods’ or ‘the same God/gods loves us all.'” Such language has two drawbacks, from her perspective: it excludes those who do not identify themselves in relation to a “god,” such as “theist, humanist, and other non-deist friends,” and further,”it forces our conversations into the shallow end of the pool, conversations that have vast and deep potential for discovery.”

The younger generation, she observes, is more likely to use the language of “pluralism,” as used by Diane Eck and others on the Pluralism Project website. It is not just recognizing diversity, but engaging with it. It moves beyond tolerance to actively seeking to understand the other. Pluralism is the language “‘of dialogue and encounter, give and take, criticism and self-criticism.’”

What words would you use to describe the interfaith/interreligious/multifaith encounter? Do you agree with Ellie Anders? Join the conversation by adding a comment.

Making Statements; Taking Sides

Candle and globeAs the bombings and shellings continue in Israel and the Gaza Strip and the human toll rises every day, those of us who devote ourselves to building peace and relationships of respect and appreciation between religious communities find ourselves faced with a profound crisis. In situations where opposing viewpoints threaten to divide people and communities profoundly, leading even to physical violence far from “ground zero,” what is our role? Where do we stand? What can we say?

In the contemporary world of instant “communication,” the ease of posting one’s opinion, stripped of subtlety by limits of time, text, or twitter, coupled with the anonymity that the net often provides, makes it easy to “weaponize” our words, as Rabbi Joshua Stanton warns at the Huffington Post. He writes, “…to weaponize our words only reinforces the conflicts themselves and increases the harm that they do. Our opinions might rightly be deeply held, but our choice of words can be one of our most important deeds.”

Perhaps more than at any time we are called upon to exercise the skills and attitudes that (one hopes) we have been able to develop in our encounters with one another in less fraught circumstances. We can encounter one another with the intention to learn, not simply make declarations, and work towards trust, not suspicion of one another’s intentions. We measure another’s actions by a self-critical awareness of our own actions, rather than holding them to ideal standards that we ourselves do not observe. We do not assume we know where conflicts or differences exist before listening carefully to one another. And we always make the effort to understand the others’ perspective, never losing sight of our shared humanity.*

When lines get drawn so vividly, it sometimes seems that there is no alternative. You are either for, or you are against; you are either right or you are wrong; you must choose: which side are you on? Perhaps our challenge is both to discover a third way and to lift it up. To stand in the middle and listen to both (all) sides. To live in the tension of unresolved conflict, seeking to live into a new way of being human that encompasses both.

This past week, Rev. Paul Brandeis Rauschenbush, Executive Religion Editor at Huffington Post, and some of his colleagues invited people to share “A Moment for Peace.” He wrote:

“It’s true, A Moment of Peace online may not offer any tangible results. It is foolish in the face of real war and death to expect too much from any initiative, especially an online gathering. But can we suspend our cynicism for just a moment and be a part of something positive? If nothing else, we are inviting you to take your place among those who still believe peace is possible, among those who still have hope.”

Our challenge is to find and defend that human space in the middle of conflict.


*The skills and attitudes are distilled from Leonard Swidler’s Dialogue Decalogue. Although developed in the context of Jewish/Christian dialogue, the principles hold true for dialogue in other contexts, as well.

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