Saturday, June 26, 2010

Interfaith Partnership helping fight hunger

Members of different faith groups joined forces to feed the hungry in St. Charles County.

The Interfaith Partnership on June 19 collected 1,377 nonperishable food items for the FISH of St. Charles County food pantry in St. Peters. They also collected $740 that the Hunger Task Force will use to buy perishable food for pantries throughout the county.

"We can't donate a dozen eggs, but we can donate money to buy them," said Ann Miller, Interfaith Partnership chairwoman.

FISH provided a van to transport the food and buckets to carry the cash collected by 19 Interfaith Partnership members who spent four hours seeking donations at the Mobil service station on Jungermann Road in St. Peters. The station closed two pumps to accommodate the food drive, Miller said.

This is the sixth year for the Interfaith Partnership's annual food drive. Miller said the volunteers saw a good response, but donations were down from last year's total of 2,300 food items and $1,000 cash.

Miller said the heat might have played a factor. The St. Peters Olde Tyme Picnic ran simultaneously, and could have drawn people away from the location, she said.

Miller said donors might be saving their food for another upcoming drive, the Saturday Jubilee on July 31. More than 600 volunteers will collect nonperishable food outside grocery stores and deliver it to the Operation Food Search warehouse in Wentzville for distribution to pantries throughout St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties.

"It all goes to the same cause, so that is fine," Miller said.

The Interfaith Partnership is a nonprofit organization that includes members of different faith groups, including Christians, Jews and Muslims. It meets monthly and seeks to promote respect and understanding through dialogue and community events.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Campaign for Love and Forgiveness ends, but impact lives on - Baltimore Sun

Campaign for Love and Forgiveness ends, but impact lives on - Baltimore Sun: "Campaign for Love and Forgiveness ends, but impact lives on
Foundation's 4-year initiative claims lasting effects
June 13, 2010|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun
An interfaith peace garden in Northeast Baltimore builds tolerance among religions through annual conversations about forgiveness. At-risk youth forgive others and themselves with the help of drumming and dance.

It's all part of a four-year Maryland Public Television campaign wrapping up this Tuesday to promote love and forgiveness. But participants say the program, part of an effort to build the concepts nationwide, will have a lasting impact.

MPT was one of five stations that worked with the Fetzer Institute, a foundation based in Michigan that 'engages with people and organizations to bring the power of love, forgiveness and compassion to the center of individual and community life,' said Linda Grdina, an officer with the Fetzer program."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A symbol of progress in Lower Manhattan

By Joshua M. Z. Stanton and Zeeshan Suhail

Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue

Muslim Consultative NetworkIn the rabbinic tradition, it is said that if you bring color to a person's face by upsetting them, it is as though you have physically struck him. If so, the Cordoba House and its leaders have endured a true assault.

This past month has seen a flurry of protests from extreme opponents of the Cordoba House, a proposed community center in Lower Manhattan that would be founded by Muslims but serve all New Yorkers. While dissenters comprise only a small minority of voices, they have drowned out the large and growing number of the center's supporters, as well as those who simply want to learn more about its overarching aims.

Individuals, like tea party leader Mark Williams, have mislabeled the Cordoba House a potential breeding ground for fundamentalism and tried to smear its sponsoring organizations, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, both of which have a strong record of promoting interfaith dialogue and improving Muslim-Western relations.

Sadly, these protesters have failed to distinguish between the mainstream Muslim majority and the tiny minority of militant Muslims.

Opponents say that building a Muslim-led community center near Ground Zero, a site of profound American loss and pain, would be a "victory" for militant Muslims and a loss for Americans. In fact, it is the undermining of Cordoba House that would be a true loss for Americans. One need only look as far as its name - inspired by the medieval city in Spain, Cordoba, where Christians, Jews and Muslims co-existed and thrived for 800 years - to realize that these critics are misguided.

In fact, Cordoba House is poised to become a gathering place for the enemies of militant Muslims: mainstream Muslims. It will be a sign of internal resistance to the tyranny that a small group of terrorists has tried to impose on the broader community of Muslim believers, whose ultimate goal is peace.

We, a lay Muslim American and former New Yorker, and a future rabbi and current New Yorker, are proud to stand behind this initiative. It sends a clear and profound global message that Muslims will not tolerate extremism and instead seek to collaborate with followers of other faiths and work for the common good.

Global significance aside, just imagine the local impact of Cordoba House: the community center would provide, in its creators' words, a "cultural nexus" for New Yorkers to come together for education, performances, sports and person-to-person interaction.

New York is one of the most religiously diverse cities in the world. Where better to create a space where Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Hindu New Yorkers, among others, can learn from each other through art classes, poetry readings, film screenings and interfaith dialogue? By investing in the larger New York community, Cordoba House is poised to become an incubator of social progress and haven of tolerance.

In many respects, fringe opponents of the Cordoba House have already failed - even before they rallied in protest against it on June 6. New York's Community Board recently endorsed the community center with a vote of 29 to 1, with 10 abstentions, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed his support for its construction.

Yet for Cordoba House to achieve its true potential, particularly in the face of such radical critics, people of all backgrounds must support this initiative and others like it - politically, socially, financially and, most importantly, personally. For it to truly bring together people of all religions and even those of no particular faith, New Yorkers - and indeed all Americans - should voice their support for Cordoba House and speak up about what they would truly like to see within its walls.

By participating in this effort together, New Yorkers can reclaim Cordoba House from its detractors and help it come to fruition as a symbol of progress.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

To free the terrible bondage of continued conflict, Interfaith Freedom March May be Most Important Ever

Dr. Frank Romano's Interfaith Freedom March
Dr. Romano during a recent Interfaith Freedom March.Click here to order Dr. Frank Romano's book, 'Storm Over Morocco'
(JERUSALEM) - You are welcome to participate in The Interfaith Freedom March on Monday, June 7th, 2010. The group will set out at 2:00 p.m. at the bottom of the steps of Damascus Gate, Old City, Jerusalem.
The marchers will walk in the light of the creator, following the principles of non-violence and respect for all creatures which are common denominators among the Peoples of the Book (ahl al-kitab) who reside in the area, as it is written in their Holy Scriptures of the Qur’an, the Torah, the New Testament, and in other texts.
Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sufis, Kabbalists, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, etc., and members of all faith communities are welcome.
The truth is that residents of the area are ready for a durable peace, even those who were not ready a year or two ago. Similar to the situation in Ireland and other conflict areas, residents of the area have become fed up with, as well as exhausted and disgusted by the violence and truly seek peaceful coexistence.
As a result, many are laying down their arms, working on interfaith projects to take religion/spirituality out of the conflict and working within the political system to bring about change in a permanent, nonviolent way.
A purpose of this march is also to counter-balance the filtered and false information about the suffering of the people in the area, notably Palestinians and Israelis.
Their suffering has become invisible in the face of narratives with no basis in reality and exaggerated reporting on incidents of violence and subsequent retaliation, often dominating the news and distracting the world from focusing on the day to day suffering of the residents in the area.
Moreover, removing most of the West Bank settlements would help in diffusing the tension accelerating since 1967.
As such, the occupation of the West Bank must end as a precursor to peaceful coexistence on the condition that adequate security measures are taken by both sides to secure the borders and preserve the peace.
Another purpose of this event is to facilitate working together of all active freedom/peace/human rights groups in the area and in the World. It is also dedicated to building on humanitarian efforts to improve the education of people in the area (cross-cultural dialogues, mixed student programs, etc.) and to improve the economic environment.
This event will set up a concerted and consistent effort in furtherance of freeing the area from the terrible bondage of continued conflict.
Let this march be a precursor to freedom through love and understanding by bringing all people together, as brothers and sisters and as children of the creator, showing the world that all people want peace in Israel and Palestine.
Dr. Frank Romano is a valued friend of We have endless respect and admiration for his desire to bring peace to the conflict that divides Israelis and Palestinians. As the Author of 'Storm Over Morocco', a former prisoner with a radical Islamic sect, he learned everything he could about religion, in some cases almost from the inside out. Instead of developing anger or hatred over his captivity, Frank allowed the experience to form the person he is today; a fantastic Author, an Attorney who practices in both California and Paris, France, and a bearer of the message of peace who four times a year, leads people of all backgrounds in interfaith peace marches. It is one of the most admirable things I ever have an opportunity to write about. I strongly suggest his book, and wrote this review: Aug-06-2009: Book Review: Storm Over Morocco Reveals Mysteries of Islam - Tim King There are several other articles about Dr. Romano's history and the Interfaith Peace and Freedom Marches, available at this link: search under 'Dr. Frank Romano