Marriage and Divorce Across the Faith Traditions

On Sunday, November 16th, 3:30 – 6:00 PM the IFLC will continue our lifecycle series with a panel discussing and comparing different faiths’ traditions regarding marriage and divorce. The event will take place at St. John’s Episcopal Church at 26998 Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak. Cost is $10 per person. Light refreshments available.

Panelists will be:

Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny – Jewish

Rabbi Kaluzny served Temple Israel since her ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2004. She is a proud Wolverine, having earned a degree in Judaic Studies from the University of Michigan in 1999. Rabbi Kaluzny feels lucky to be back at her home congregation. Rabbi Kaluzny shares her time at Temple Israel with the Jewish Hospice and Chaplancy Network. She has been a rabbi in the network since 2001. Rabbi Kaluzny was deeply affected by the death of her beloved Aunt in a hospice in Chicago when she was 19, and promised then that her work as a rabbi would include working with hospice patients and their families. Today, Rabbi Kaluzny helps guide Temple Israel families through the questions, decisions, and Jewish issues that might arise at the end of life. Through her work at JHCN and Temple Israel, Rabbi Kaluzny spends a great deal of time in nursing home and assisted living facilities visiting older adults and helping keep them connected to Temple Israel and the Jewish community, as well as connecting them to services in the community they might need.

Gigi Salka - Muslim

Gigi Salka is involved in many diversity initiatives. She works with local religious and teaching institutions to promote understanding among faith traditions. She has volunteered extensively in the Birmingham school district and through the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills. As a prior WISDOM board member, Gigi has participated as a panelist on the 5W5J panel, worked on various community service projects, on board development and as Treasurer. Gigi graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a degree in Finance and Marketing. She currently works as a financial auditor as well as raising her three children to be positive contributors to their community. Gigi hopes and prays for a world full of love, peace, understanding and respect.

Rev. Deacon Kurt Godfryd – Catholic

Reverend Mr. Kurt Godfryd is a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Married and the father of five children, Deacon Kurt was ordained to the diaconate on October 4, 2008 by His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida and is assigned to St. Clement of Rome parish in Romeo, Michigan. He is also Business Officer for The Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Adjunct Lecturer of economics at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan; and Vice Chairman of the Board at Alliance Catholic Credit Union. A native Detroiter, he was educated at the Jesuit-run University of Detroit Mercy, where he received a B.S. in finance, M.B.A., and M.A. in economics. His theological training was taken at Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary, where he earned an M.A. in pastoral ministry.

Polly Mallory -The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Ms. Mallory has served for many years in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a Relief Society (women's organization) President, a counselor in a Stake (similar to a diocese) Relief Society Presidency, as a Seminary teacher for youth and a (Religion) Institute teacher for young single adults.

Polly Mallory is the Director of Family Prevention Services at LACASA, a Livingston County non-profit agency serving victims of child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.  She was previously the Executive Director of the Family Resource Center and has worked extensively in home visitation services for families with young children. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has worked as a therapist with adults and couples.

She and her husband live in Brighton, Michigan and are the parents of four children and twelve beautiful grandchildren. 

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Posted on September 29, 2014 .

Community Service Award Honoree: Dr. Glenda Price

As a youngster, Dr. Glenda Price says she loved math and science. “I found it so logical and so easy,” says Price. “I have always found the hard sciences to be intellectually comforting.”

Paradoxically, the woman who says she found sociology “difficult because it has to do with people, who are never predictable,” ended up with a PhD in educational psychology.

Currently President of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, and formerly president of Marygrove College, Price started her career in a science lab, where she began to wonder what made some people better laboratory practitioners than others.

“I ended up in education out of my desire to learn why some students learn science and some don’t,” says Price. “I couldn’t figure out what it was about the work or the individuals that made it so hard for some and so easy for others.”

What she found is that it’s a combination of factors including things like having good depth perception, which increases what one can glean from looking into a microscope.

Most importantly though, she found that some people are constantly asking questions. “They are excellent practitioners,” says Price. “In so many ways, that’s how I live my life. I’m always asking.”

Price’s resume is remarkable and long. It looks like it might contain several lifetimes’ worth of professional and volunteer endeavors, as well as leadership in numerous professional associations. And the range is broad, from serving as President of the American Society for Medical Technology to President of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

“I’m just interested in a lot of stuff. I find life to be fascinating,” says Price.

Her volunteer work also represents her unlimited interests and a passion for positive engagement.

In the laboratory, she says, her intuition was one of her strengths. “I was able to just naturally know when something was wrong.”

In the community, she applies that intuitive understanding to everything from serving as secretary (soon to be President) of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, to her work on the Board of Directors of Focus: HOPE. Recently, she was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Financial Advisory Board for the City of Detroit. (Click to see Dr. Price’s complete bio)

Perhaps most remarkably, she makes time for two book clubs, recently reading “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, about a young Nigerian woman’s experiences in the United States.“It’s the kind of book I enjoy from the standpoint of knowing who we are as individuals, who we are as a nation, through the eyes of someone who didn’t grow up here,” says Price.

 Her other book club book for September is “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat,” by Edward Kelsey Moore, about three women who come together through the different events of their lives. 

Her busy schedule also includes regular time for her sorority group. 

“We have to make sure that younger people know how important personal connections are,” says Price. She makes a strong distinction between personal connections and the virtual word of social media. “I like to see and touch and talk to real live people.”

On October 29, the IFLC will recognize Dr. Glenda Price for her many, many contributions to the community with the Community Service Award at our annual dinner.

Click for ticket, table, sponsorship and ad information

Posted on September 22, 2014 .

Troy Alliance Against Hate Crimes

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

— Nelson Mandela

Reversing the tide of hate is the sacred task of groups around the world. Recently taking up the fight, civic, interfaith and religious leaders in the Troy area have formed the Troy Alliance Against Hate Crimes.

The Troy group’s aim is to engage in education, prevention and advocacy, and to be prepared to respond to acts of intolerance or hate.

“It was something we thought would be good for the city,” says Shawn Flint, who is the Police Service Aide, Community Services for the Troy police department. Troy police Chief Gary Mayer “wanted us to help get this off the ground.”

The effort was a response to department participation in the Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes conference. Because the police department would investigate any potential hate crime, the Alliance is a separate organization, but the department is represented by Sergeant Andy Breidenich, who has been instrumental in bringing it together.

“We’re a chair, a voice at the table with everybody. Everybody needs to have a voice at the table,” says Flint.

Dr. Bob Cornwall, Pastor of Troy’s Central Woodward Christian Church and convener of the Troy Interfaith Group is chairing the group, which includes representatives of the Troy Diversity and Inclusion Council, the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, the Sikh Community, Congregation Shir Tikvah, and the Troy Interfaith Group, among others.

The goal, says Cornwall, is broad involvement from the faith community, the business community and the schools, as well as other interfaith and civic entities.

 “A lot of people don’t know the difference between a hate crime and a hate bias,” says Cornwall. “Hate crimes remind us that hate bias can lead to hate crimes. What we want people to do is become more aware of their community.”

Michigan’s Hate Crime law is the Ethnic Intimidation Act. The law makes it a felony to harm, or threaten to harm, a person, or the property of the person, “with the specific intent to intimidate or harass” that person “because of the person’s race, color, religion, gender or national origin. The crime is a felony, punishable by up to 2 years and/or up to $5000.00 in fines.

Cornwall says the group plans to create a certification process so that individuals and groups can say “We are certified by the Troy Alliance Against Hate Crimes that we are fighting hate bias. If you can deal with hate bias, hate crimes are not going to take place.”

The Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes will hold its next conference on November 14. For more information and registration, go to http://miaahc.com

Posted on September 15, 2014 .

Capuchin Ministries International Day of Prayer for Peace September 24 Prayer Service

Sr. Nancyann Turner was among the sisters who conceived the Capuchin Ministries sponsored observance of the International Day of Prayer for Peace over a decade ago. As part of the international community of Dominican sisters who were particularly aware of the plight of their Iraqi counterparts at that time, they felt that it would be good to make a statement about the importance of peace. They presented the idea to Brother Jerry Smith, Director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen Ministries.

“He embraced the idea right away,” she recalls.

The effort expanded quickly, says Turner, soon encompassing participants of many faiths with significant participation from the Baptist, Methodist and Muslim communities.

On Wednesday, September 24, at 7:00 pm, metro Detroiters are invited to participate in this year’s prayer service at the St. Bonaventure Monastery Chapel at 1780 Mount Elliott in Detroit. The service will feature Bishop Michael J. Byrnes speaking on “Peace is the Right for all People.”

The theme of this year’s observance “Right of Peoples to Peace” honors of the 30th anniversary of the UN’s General Assembly Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace.

The annual International Day of Prayer for Peace was established by a United Nations resolution in 1982. In 2001, an additional resolution declared September 21 (the actual date of the International Day of Prayer) an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire.

“We will be praying over the plight of Syria and the plight of Detroit,” says Turner, who manages the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Rosa Parks Children / Youth program. “We will also celebrate the power of community in overcoming violence. Many faiths will be represented through readings. We invite all to join us as we pray for peace in the world and peace in Detroit. We are joining with others throughout the world on this day to pray for peace and to bless places that especially need our prayers for peace.”  

The idea of peace for all peoples is a day to day reality for Turner, working with Detroit children and families across faith backgrounds on programs like after school tutoring, art therapy, support groups for boys, girls, and mothers, reading programs, field trips, leadership training, and an annual peace camp.

“We give the children a safe place to express their feelings,” says Turner.  “These kids are the future and we want to build them up and give them power. We’re stretching their imaginations so we can address the violence in our city.”

Several of her peace camp graduates recently came back to her with proof that they could imagine peace. They wanted to teach at peace camp. “I can’t hire you till you show me a curriculum,” answered Turner. And they did.

The Day of Prayer for Peace prayer service will feature the Detroit Dearing Dance Company, which includes some of the Rosa Parks students, as well as the Capuchin Soup Kitchen Choir. One of the Rosa Parks students will offer a reflection on staying out of the violence and becoming a contributing member of the community of Detroit.

“What’s really interesting,” says Turner, is “how all of the community and all of our faiths don’t want violence. We all cherish life and want to respect life. Religion should be about life”

Each participant in the service will be invited to make a vow of non-violence, and will receive a card with a prayer and peace saying.

The most important thing for members of the community to do, says Turner, is “live peace and teach peace. Be willing to build relationships of peace and compassion with different people. We all need to be building community.”

The Capuchin Ministries are dedicated to the principals of social justice and caring for the needy that have been foremost in the Capuchin order since its origins in the early 1500s. In addition to the Rosa Parks program, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen ministries include a meal program, substance abuse assistance, an urban farm, a service center that helps those needing, food, clothing and household goods, and the On the Rise Bakery, which helps transition those formerly incarcerated or struggling with substance abuse as they reenter society.

 

Posted on September 8, 2014 .

Walk for Zaman International on September 13

In 1996, Najah Bazzy, a cardiac nurse who also specialized in cross cultural training, was working as for Oakwood Healthcare, doing home visits for newly arrived immigrant families. It was during the gulf war, and she was seeing a great deal of war related trauma.

On one such visit, she met a family with no money and a baby with a terminal cancer. When she asked to see the baby, the couple brought him out in a laundry basket lined with clean towels because they didn’t have a crib. When she asked to see where they kept the special formula needed for the baby, they brought out a picnic cooler because they did not have a refrigerator.

Bazzy knew she had to do something. Within a weekend, she had the house furnished with everything the couple needed.

This was the beginning of the Bayt al-Zahra Urgent Needs Program, the first program of Bazzy’s humanitarian organization Zaman International. Currently based in Dearborn, Zaman will move into 40,000 feet of warehouse and office space in Inkster in the beginning of 2015. But for its first 8 years, Bazzy operated it from her basement, renting a U-Haul on weekends to make deliveries.

When the couple eventually lost their child, Bazzy started the Plots for Tots initiative to provide dignified burial for the children of indigent community members.

During that time, Bazzy was also starting the Young Muslim Association (YMA) at the Islamic Center of America. For the first few years, the YMA was focused largely on helping with clothing and furniture drives, but eventually diverged into a larger range of youth activities.

Zaman is the Arabic word for time. Zaman International takes its name from Bazzy’s foundational question “What are we going to do with our time on Earth to make the world a better place?”

Much of the organization’s time is spent helping metro Detroit community members of all races, religions, ethnicities, and backgrounds. But the organization has also partnered with the International Medical Corps on projects such as Sips of Hope, which has helped to alleviate drought with wells and rain water reservoirs for 70,000 people in Kenya and Somalia. Zaman also collaborates with aid organizations to send clothing and hygiene items to people in areas affected by war or natural disasters.

Zaman International’s other programs include B.O.O.S.T - Women’s Vocational and Literacy Training Program, and a Mobile Food Pantry.

Najah Bazzy, in addition to her humanitarian work, is well known for her interfaith work, and is active as a speaker and teacher across the community, nationally and internationally.

“She has a way of making everyone, regardless of faith background feel one with her,” says Monica Boomer, Zaman International’s Director of Community Engagement.

The Interfaith Leadership Council is very pleased to be honoring Mrs. Bazzy with the Interfaith Leadership Award at our upcoming annual awards dinner on October 29.

On September 13, Zaman International will hold its annual Walk 4 Humanity 5K run, barbecue and children’s event at Dearborn’s Ford Field. Proceeds will help fund Zaman Internationals programs, which are almost entirely funded by individual donations.

“Out of all of the events we do throughout the year, this is the one that’s targeted at the whole family,” says Boomer. The children’s activities are geared, she says, toward “getting the kids to get humanitarian work on the brain.”

Organizers expect over 800 people of all ages and backgrounds from around the metro Detroit community.

Click for more information

Posted on September 1, 2014 .

The Jewish and Chaldean Community Come Together at St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church

 By Gail Katz, Jewish/Chaldean Social Action Initiative Chair 

On Monday evening, August 18th, about 100 Jews and Chaldeans gathered for a potluck dinner and a social action project at St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church in West Bloomfield.  This is the fourth year that the Jewish and Chaldean communities have joined together as part of the Jewish News and Chaldean News “Building Community Initiative.” The initiative gives both communities the chance to reach out to each other, visit each other’s holy places of worship, participate in each other’s cultural events, and bond as human beings with similar needs, wants, and emotions. 

I kicked off the evening with a welcome and a reading of Naomi Levy’s beautiful and meaningful “Prayer for Tolerance.”  Martin Manna, Editor of the Chaldean News, then addressed the gathering, sharing the history and current activities of the Building Community Initiative.  In the Walled Lake Schools there is still a teen forum that includes Jewish, Chaldean, and African American students who are working to further understanding and reduce bullying.  And Jewish and Chaldean entrepreneurs continue to meet and share business ideas.

Martin Manna gave us an update on the terrible situation in Iraq and how the Chaldean community there has been impacted. Since 2008, the Chaldean Community Foundation in Southfield has been helping thousands of refugees and immigrants coming to the United States from Iraq. But in the last few weeks, their phones have been ringing non-stop.

Many towns in Iraq have been run down by ISIS – the Islamic State in Iraq, which is fighting to take over the country. Thousands of Christians have been killed in the name of religion, and the Chaldean community has suffered terribly. For the first time in 1600 years, mass was not celebrated in Mosul, Iraq, formerly populated by Chaldeans, who have now fled or been killed. 

As the Chaldeans and other Christians fled, their possessions were taken from them, their villages were shelled, and their churches were desecrated. Martin asked the audience to go to www.helpiraq.org  to find out how to write letters or donate to the cause.  The number of Chaldean immigrants to the Detroit area, which has been about 200 people a month, is likely to double or triple due to the crisis in Iraq. 

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Father Andrew Seba then invited everyone to join him in the sanctuary for a discussion about the Chaldean Catholic religious practices. He explained that St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church is the largest English speaking Chaldean parish in the world.  There are five masses every weekend – three in English, one in Chaldean, and one in Arabic. The church serves over 3,000 families, and uses its social hall for youth groups, socials, bingo and classes.  

Father Andrew explained how the Chaldean church differs from the Roman Catholic Church. According to legend, the Chaldeans were converted to Christianity by the Apostle Thomas on one of his missionary journeys to the East. In 1445, Chaldeans were received into the Roman Church and they were permitted to retain their historic rituals and the Chaldean/Aramaic language for mass and other ceremonies.

Before leaving the sanctuary,  Father Seba pointed out the beautiful ceiling with the image of God, and the Chaldean symbol below the depiction of God that included three dots for the Trinity, the Chaldean letters Y and H which stood for the Hebrew word “Yahweh,” and one dot below the letters, which represented one God!

 

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After Father Seba’s remarks in the sanctuary, we all went back to the social hall to enjoy the Chaldean and Jewish culinary delights that everyone brought to the potluck.  We sat at a table with folks that we didn’t already know so that we could make some new interfaith friendships.  We spent the end of the evening in an assembly line, filling the many backpacks we had purchased with school supplies that each attendee brought.

Wisam Brikho, Refugee and Immigrant Consultant for Oakland Schools, took the backpacks with him to deliver to needy elementary students when school starts in September.  We all left with the wonderful feeling of having made new friends, and having learned something new about the Chaldean history, culture, faith, and current challenges. And, our interfaith initiative has made a difference in the lives of local students by giving them the backpacks that we stuffed together.  We look forward to the next coming together of the Jewish/Chaldean Social Action Initiative.

Posted on August 25, 2014 .

NAIN Co-Chairs Gail Katz and Paula Drewek

NAIN Co-Chairs Gail Katz and Paula Drewek

Despite the deluge, 155 men and women of all faiths from across North America listened, learned, and shared, creating connections across the boundaries of almost fifty different faith traditions.

Starting with our local favorite interfaith performers, Brother Al Mascia and Maggid Steve Klaper of Song and Spirit, through to the final plenary on Sacred Storytelling, it was a non-stop opportunity to absorb new ideas and new energy.

In the opening plenary, Rev. Dr. Dan Buttry charmed and inspired, encouraging us to talk to each other, to respect each other’s basic humanity and use that communication and respect as a basis not just for connection, but also for collaboration.

He told the story of his first date with his wife Sharon, who, not knowing that he didn’t care for popcorn, made him some. He ate the whole bowl because he didn’t want to risk losing the second date, he said. Eventually their relationship grew into one that could tolerate more honesty.

Interfaith relationships, he says, must have that higher level of honesty, must include and be able to survive talking about “the real stuff.”

“We will never transform the world with interfaith first date moments,” said Buttry.

Effective interfaith work means deep community building so that, in times of crisis, those connections hold fast.

He emphasized the need to work together doing “the nitty gritty nuts and bolts of community building.”

And he sent participants back to their own religious communities with a mandate to open conversations there. “If we are silent in our own communities,” said Buttry, “intolerance will win.”

The tone of openness and honesty carried through the conference, with feedback from participants being almost unanimous on several points: They had great conversations; they thought the conference was very well executed; that Meredith Skowronski and all the committee members and volunteers did an outstanding job; and they didn’t care for the weather.

The historic downpour did not stop anyone from enjoying an excellent dinner at the Islamic Center of America, where Brenda Rosenberg, moderating the “From Hate to Hope” panel on misconceptions about different groups, echoed Buttry’s call to share difficult truths.

“Tonight we are going to talk about what divides us,” said Rosenberg. “You cannot build a bridge without points of tension.’

To see what misconceptions are out there about Islam, said scholar and activist Saeed Khan, “turn on the television.” There needs to be a safe space for discussion and trust building exercises, said Khan. “This isn’t an easy task.”

“Let’s put it on the table and move forward, as a nation should,” echoed First Nation representative Myeengun Henry. “We can’t be scared of those tough questions anymore.”

Parvinder Mehta talked about being Sikh in America, raising the challenging question of what it would take for a minority to be accepted in the melting pot, which she called a “traditional euro-centric notion.”

“As a Sikh in American,” she asked, “do I need to melt away all my differences? Do I have to assimilate to be ‘American enough’?”

The conference afforded participants to see the melting pot of metro Detroit first hand, with tours of Hamtramck, the DIA, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, The Arab American Museum, the Holocaust Memorial Center, and a tour of Dearborn led by Mayor Jack O’Reilly.

Mayor O’Reilly also participated on a panel called Picking up the Pieces, with Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, and Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski.

“Having the three mayors present, talking about their approach to inclusion and respect was mind-blowing!!” said one participant.

From the NAIN Young Adult Scholars to Peace! Love! Mosaics! to The Next Frontier in Interfaith, participants expressed enthusiasm and delight at the diversity of topics and the quality of the presentations and interactions.

IFLC President Robert Bruttell opened the final evening’s event at Livonia’s beautiful St. Mary’s Antiochan Orthodox Church with a few humorous biblical flood references, going into a more serious vein on the subject of the Religious Leaders Forum’s work on violence prevention, literacy and energy self-sufficiency.

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray, newly arrived President of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary, moderated the panel “City on Edge: Leading the Fight against Enmity.” The panel included Superintendent Marcus R. Ways, Rabbi Michael Moskowitz, Imam Steven Mustapha Elturk, and St. Mary’s Father George Shalhoub.

In an intensely personal and heartfelt discussion, all four shared their stories, answering questions from Dr. Murray about how they came to interfaith work and how to sustain it.

Rabbi Moskowitz concluded with this: “We create friendships, we create relationships. And I think God is in the relationships. The bridges, the friendships will last. This is America. We stand together.”

Posted on August 19, 2014 .

A Letter from The Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray

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To the Readers of the InterFaith Leadership Council Newsletter,

I am grateful to the leaders of the IFLC for inviting me to introduce myself to you, and to speak about the organization that I represent, Ecumenical Theological Seminary.  It was my great pleasure and honor to join ETS at the beginning of July to serve as the fourth President and as Professor of Systematic Theology and Preaching.  

If you are not familiar with Ecumenical Theological Seminary, it is an accredited seminary founded by a number of Protestant Christian denominations in the suburbs, now housed along the cultural corridor of Woodward Avenue in the historic building of the First Presbyterian Church of Detroit.  We are a relatively young seminary situated in one of America’s greatest cities, throwing our arms wide open to an interdenominational, even inter-religious student body. 

In our classrooms on any given evening, one might find Presbyterians and Episcopalians, Baptists and Congregationalists, Catholics and Lutherans, as well as Muslims training toward chaplaincy positions.  Our students are not merely future ministers and priests, but social activists and musicians, artists and teachers.  This dynamic community pursues masters and doctoral degrees, along with post-baccalaureate certificates and diplomas, exploring ways of pursuing ministry and service to their communities within the context of this intercultural and multi-religious city of Detroit, or simply exploring Biblical studies, theology, religious ethics, pastoral care and counseling, and religion and the arts. 

Ecumenical Theological Seminary welcomes people of all backgrounds to come together for our educational degree programs and community events, as we offer a meeting place for people of all backgrounds and faiths who seek justice, love mercy, and wish to offer hospitality to their neighbors is in the next pew or in the temples, synagogues, and mosques down the road.

I have been struck by the hospitality and warm welcome that I have received from the faith communities of Detroit and its vicinity, and I am eager to meet you and work with you in the months and years ahead.  My family and I join your community from the Boston area, where I served for the past six years as the Senior Pastor of The First Baptist Church of Boston, founded in 1665, the third oldest church in Boston and the fourth oldest Baptist church in America. 

I also served as American Baptist Chaplain to Harvard University and Denominational Counselor and Lecturer in Ministry at Harvard Divinity School, and have spent the past three years founding a new liberal arts college along the Hudson River in upstate New York as Dean of the College and Associate Professor of Theology.  Previously, I served as the chaplain and on the faculty of Endicott College, Skidmore College, and Suffolk University, and as an administrator at Yale University’s Dwight Hall Center for Public Service and Social Justice. 

In parish ministry, I have served as the pastor of American Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ congregations in urban, suburban, and rural settings of Massachusetts and New York.  I grew up United Methodist in Delaware and went to high school at The Episcopal Academy outside of Philadelphia.  I was introduced affectionately at a conference as “an ecumenical movement unto himself,” so I should fit in just fine among all of the religious constituencies that make up Ecumenical Theological Seminary! 

I received my B.A. in philosophy and religion from Bucknell University, the M.B.A. from Endicott College, the M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School, and the M.Phil. and Ph.D. in systematic theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where my doctoral advisor was the womanist theologian Dr. Delores S. Williams.  When I was studying at Union, I met my wife, Cynthia, a former concert harpist who did her doctoral work in clinical psychology on the West Coast.  Our son, Hunter, is a terrific little boy who keeps us on our toes, loves to swim, and amazes us every day.

I anticipate this good, holy work with and among you.  Ours is a seminary that refuses to allow theology to be bound up in the Ivory Tower of academia alone, but recognizes that theology must spill into the streets demanding to be relevant and seek justice.  Ours is a seminary that must celebrate the distinctions of this great city of Detroit which is its home, drawing together the churches and communities of faith of both the city and the suburbs so that we might learn together, serve together, pray and sing together.  Our greatness comes in our commitment to do this work as part of an urban community that honors and cherishes Detroit as one of the artistic capitals of the world, renowned for Motown and hip hop, the symphony and the street, the Institute of Art and the poetry of motion that comes amid proud sports teams and the ballet.  Ecumenical Theological Seminary is poised to be a necessary and prophetic voice of conscience as Detroit reclaims its birthright as one of America’s brightest lights.

This next week, the annual meeting of the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) will take place on the campus of Wayne State University, just a few blocks away from ETS, and I am excited by the leadership that IFLC has displayed in developing an outstanding program and playing hosts to people of similar inter-religious convictions in public life.  I hope to see many of you throughout the days of August 10-13, and on Tuesday I am happy to moderate the plenary panel made up of the Religious Leaders Forum for that evening, “City on Edge: Leading the Fight Against Enmity.”  This will be one of many important conversations that we will share over the course of this week, and I look forward to the opportunity to share in these conversations with you.         

Sincerely yours,

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray
President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Preaching
Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit, Michigan

 

Posted on August 4, 2014 .

Sponsors, Ads, and Tickets, Oh My! Participate in the IFLC Annual Annual dinner and support IFLC Programs

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The combined energy of our faith and interfaith community would be more than equal to the challenges facing the metro Detroit area. It is the mission of the IFLC to work to engage and coordinate as many congregations, organizations and community members we can in this vital work. Our focus is on religious literacy, creating interfaith information resources, and coordinating efforts, starting with our current project to map the social outreach efforts of our congregations and interfaith groups.

Attendance at our upcoming dinner and purchase of ads in the journal will support our programs and help us honor our outstanding awardees, Visionary Leadership Award: Mariam Noland, President- Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, Community Service Award: Dr. Glenda Price, President- Detroit Public Schools Foundation, and Interfaith Leadership Award: Najah Bazzy, Director and Founder- Zaman International.

Click here for ticket, ad and sponsorship information

Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit Programs

Religious Diversity Journeys for 7th Graders

2014-2015 School Year

 Currently in partnership with Oakland County School Superintendents, and expanding into Wayne County schools, this youth-training program in public middle schools exposes students to various cultural and religious traditions to promote understanding and teach the conflict resolution skills necessary to engender respect for cultural traditions and help eliminate bullying.

 Social Outreach Mapping Project

 With hundreds of congregations and interfaith groups in metropolitan Detroit, each with their own programs, we need to create an “asset inventory” of what is being done. Creating a network that links groups together based upon shared goals and the needs they are addressing will dramatically increase the potential benefits of the tremendous amount of energy the faith community is already investing in our beloved Detroit community.

 Literacy Program for Children and Adults: Pre-School U

 Many children start school ill prepared to learn, often because their parents or caregivers do not know how to prepare them to begin their education. Congregations offer the perfect safe, trusting pastoral environment for caregivers and children to learn these skills. The IFLC is organizing Detroit congregations to participate in a preschool educational program designed to teach caregivers and parents how to promote the early childhood literacy skills children need to excel in school.

 IFLC e- Newsletter and Website

 We would be happy to include your organizations upcoming within the newsletter.  If you are interested in promoting your events with us, please email them with as much detail as possible to Beth Robinson at bethrobinson1835@gmail.com.   If you do not currently receive our weekly newsletter and would like to be added to our current mailing list, please email Beth at the address above.  And don’t forget that you can learn more about our programs and current work by visiting our website at www.detroitinterfaithcouncil.org

NAIN Connect Conference: Bridging Borders and Boundaries

Sunday, August 10 – Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wayne State University Campus

Join us this summer as we showcase the diversity and growth in our great city!  The conference will highlight local-run workshops, plenaries and site visits that focus on how our civic leaders, faith leaders and community members are working together in an effort to better understand one another and overcome obstacles that hinder our ability to build community. 

IFLC’s Annual Awards Dinner

October 29, 2014: Shriners Silver Garden, Southfield

 The IFLC knows that there are many civic and interfaith leaders working tirelessly within the community who oftentimes go unnamed.  The IFLC’s annual awards dinner is an occasion for these leaders, both civic and religious, to be thanked and honored for the work that they are doing to help strengthen the community of metropolitan Detroit.  

Posted on August 4, 2014 .

CAPUCHIN SOUP KITCHEN ON THE RISE BAKERY CAFÉ GRAND OPENING JULY 26

Scroll down for details on Ramadan Food Drive

The On the Rise Bakery Café is celebrating its grand opening, Saturday, July 26, 8900 Gratiot Ave (corner of Rohns and Gratiot, three blocks south of McClellan), 10 am – 2:00 pm. The blessing of the bakery will take place 10:00 am followed by tours and samples of the new bakery sandwiches and desserts.

The 1900 square foot facility showcases the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s bakery’s delicious breads, cookies, sweet rolls, pies, and cinnamon rolls. The facility has seating for 25-30 and features café seating, encouraging patrons to enjoy a sandwich or bakery treat while sipping a delicious cup of tea or Fair Trade coffee.

The café also provides bountiful sandwiches, all served on a choice of On the Rise Bakery’s homemade artisan breads.

“Since opening a few weeks ago, traffic has been steady and enthusiastic,” reports bakery retail manager Brian Talley. “The baked goods are still produced at our bakery a few blocks away, but we needed a bigger space and we wanted to expand our offerings.”

The Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s On the Rise Bakery is marking its eighth year.  What started as a social enterprise in the kitchen of the Meldrum meal site is now a business that has served as a new- beginnings-launch-pad for over 70 men returning to society after bouts in prison or halfway houses.

Brother Ray Stadmeyer explains. “There is a real need for men coming out of these situations to get their feet beneath them. It’s too easy to lapse back into old ways when there’s no job to be had or no place to live. The purpose of our 12 month bakery program is to introduce structure and purpose. For some of the men, this is the first time they have experienced those crucial elements in their lives.”

 About the Capuchin Soup Kitchen

Founded in 1929, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen serves Metro Detroit by providing food, clothing, and counsel to those in need.  Frequently preparing and serving 2,000 meals a day, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen also distributes household items and operates a shower program, food pantry, and children’s tutoring and art therapy program. Its Earthworks Urban Farm produces vegetables for Detroit’s hungry, and educates the community in regards to sustainable relationships between human beings and the earth. The soup kitchen's ROPE (Reaching Our Potential Everyday) ministry is designed to assist individuals "re-entering" society after bouts of incarceration or substance abuse. ROPE's first social enterprise is the "On the Rise Bakery."

The soup kitchen is a ministry of the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, which is headquartered in Detroit and serves Capuchin ministries worldwide.

www.CSKDetroit.org    www.TheCapuchins.org

Posted on July 22, 2014 .

Southeast Michigan Served through Ramadan Food Drive

During the Holy month of fasting, spiritual purification and charitable giving, Muslims Michiganians donate money and volunteer their time to help feed hungry.

One of the key mosques in Farmington, The Tawheed Center (www.tawheedcenter.org), through their food drive program, helps fulfill the important religious obligation of feeding the hungry, particularly in this Holy month. It is a key part of the Ramadan Fight Against Hunger Campaign of MMCC.

What: The Annual Tawheed Center Food Drive serving more than 850 needy families in 30 communities of Southeastern Michigan. The effort is a totally volunteer driven program ongoing for 18 years, organized by a group of Muslim engineers from GM, Ford, and Chrysler, along with their entire families.

Young and old gather to prepare and package food, starting at 10:00 AM while fasting. Then, they help load up trucks and deliver food to the needy.

Where: Volunteers to arrive at the Sam’s Club dock area. 32625 Northwestern Hwy, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

When: Saturday, July 26th, 2014. Food packaging and loading will continue from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm or when everything is completed. The food will then be delivered by volunteers to various sites throughout the region. No advance commitment is required. Volunteers may choose the time they prefer to serve. Muslims and non-Muslims are all welcome to join this noble effort.

CONTACT: Mr. Dawood Zwink, Executive Director Dzwink@mimuslimcouncil.com (313) 505-2423.

MMCC MISSION:

1. Promote unity and cooperation among the diverse Muslim communities, cultures, ethnic backgrounds and races by convening and mobilizing the Muslim community

2. To promote the best Islamic and American values through advocacy, and organizing service, education and partnerships and coalitions with ethnic racial, religious, education and civic organizations, government and the media others

3. Pursue social justice, improve human relations and uphold human rights in America.

www.mimuslimcouncil.com; www.facebook.com/mimuslimcouncil; twitter@mimuslimcouncil

Posted on July 22, 2014 .

Detroit’s Religious And Interfaith Leaders Working Together For Peace

Please Join In Fast Day Tomorrow July 15

Conflicts over power often hijack religious identity in order to masquerade as having a religious purpose. This does a disservice to the sacred. In metropolitan Detroit we are determined to model for the world as best we possibly can how to work on local issue as friends with a common desire to build a thriving community in which we can all share as equals.

As the world continues to watch religious extremism and violence shatter lives and communities in the Middle East, local religious and interfaith leaders are working together to create solidarity and understanding here at home.

Inspired by the parents of the slain Israeli and Palestinian youths coming together, Jewish and Muslim Tectonic leaders Hamzah Latif, Ariana Mentzel, Brenda Rosenberg, and Samia Bashoun are calling on members of all faiths in our community to show solidarity by participating in a joint fast day tomorrow, July 15, which is a Muslim fast day during Ramadan and the Jewish fast day known as 17 Tammuz.

Daniel Buttry is an IFLC board member and serves as the Global Consultant for Peace and Justice for International Ministries of the American Baptist Churches.  In response to recent developments in Iraq Dan had this to say:

“Our interfaith challenge is to build the bridges to each other to dispel the hatreds and mistrust that comes from ignorance and fear.  Sectarian or religious violence across any lines will only lead to more sorrow and more distain for the deity or religion invoked in the violence.  Each of our faiths has a strong peace stream, and that's what we must access and build upon, both across lines of faith and also within the houses of each of our religions.  We need more extensive intra-faith dialog to establish and expand what we have come to cherish through our inter-faith dialog.  We in Detroit can especially do that, and we can pray together for the peace that all those who suffer of whatever religion so desperately need. 

On June 24, the Detroit area Imams and Muslim community leaders came together to call for sectarian unity, Sunni and Shia joining in a commitment to use the opportunity of their Friday sermons during Ramadan to exhort the community to join them in standing together and recognizing that the underlying cause of the strife is political rather than religious.

The Imams’ statement affirmed:

- We condemn all types of extremism, more so the violent extremism.

- We will always speak against violence - violence begets violence - peaceful dialogue is the only way to resolving conflicts, as it was practiced by the Prophet. 

- We, the Imams are keen on protecting our communities from any potential sectarianism.

- We cannot solve the problems of the Middle East. Our attention should be focused on our problems here as we face, hate, Islamphobia, youth issues, drugs etc. 

- We caution our youth from being brainwashed by any faction through the web and other social media outlets in an attempt to recruit potential participants in violence from the US.

- We are calling for non-violence.

- We re-affirm code of honor signed by the imams and community leaders http://www.mimuslimcouncil.com/about-us/code-honor/.

Imam Steve Elturk and Imam Elahi, Sunni and Shia co-Chairs of the MMCC Imams' Council appeared on Flashpoint, Channel 4, on Sunday morning, 6/29.

http://m.clickondetroit.com/Flashpoint-6-29-14/26715280

Imams Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council

Imams Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council

Posted on July 13, 2014 .

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc. First Annual Justice and Equality Awards Ceremony

On June 11, 2014, The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc., Southfield held their first Annual Justice and Equality awards Ceremony, honoring two of our community’s great activists and interfaith champions.

Barbara E. Talley was the first African American elected to public office in the City of Southfield and elected to Southfield City Council in 1983 and served as a Councilwoman for six years. Over the course of her extensive public career, she has worked tirelessly on initiatives promoting peace, justice, equality, and civil rights, on issues of environmental protection, interfaith understanding, equality in government, and fair housing practices.

She has been honored numerous times, including receiving a Peace Award from the City of Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico, and for  her  book "Pathways to Interfaith Dialogue:  An Innovative Model for Peace and  Community Building, which stemmed from her work in forming the Southfield Interfaith Clergy Group in the late 1990’s.

At the June 11 ceremony, Mrs. Talley received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Justice & Equality Award.

Dawud Walid is a noted Muslim expert and advocate, an Islamic preacher and a blogger for the Detroit News, preaching across the country, and serving as Executive Director of   the Michigan chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI).

He has presented on prominent panel discussions with international leaders and

Academics including the 2008 and 2011 Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Conventions and the 2009 and 2010 Malian Peace & Tolerance Conferences held in Bamako, Mali, which were attended by religious scholars from 12 different countries. 

And he has been a regular contributor to the Muslim Observer newspaper and Illume Magazine and has also been interviewed, quoted, and published in numerous media outlets throughout the globe including,  Al-Jazeera, BBC,CNN,FOX, NBC World News, National Public Radio, the New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.  He is featured in the 2012 book "All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim" 

On June 11, he received the Booker T. Washington Justice Award. 

Posted on July 7, 2014 .

Health and HOPE

“If we stay together, there is nothing we cannot do,” said Tom Watkins, President and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority, summing up his comments at last Thursday’s Interfaith Health and Hope Coalition (IHHC) event.

This is the ideal that Is embodied in the IHHC’s mission to network across the faith community and the health care industry, bringing faith based organizations, health systems, health organizations and individuals together to close the gaps between those in need and  the resources that will help.

“We call it gap analysis,” says Ron Beford, IHHC Executive Director. The IHHC “tries to identify and fill gaps to meet people’s need, particularly as it pertains to health and health care.”

The IHHC began as a group of faith leaders gathering monthly to discuss issues faced by their communities, including access to healthcare, affordability, awareness and education.

Through outreach to the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, the group was asked to organize presentations on faith based initiatives for the 2003 Cover the Uninsured Week sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Incorporating as a non-profit in 2007, the IHHC began to create Faith-Based Care Circles to address the needs of the uninsured and the underserved. The Care Circles are geographically based groups of faith and health care organizations that connect to share information and resources.

The Care Circles serve as “a liaison between those in need and those who can meet that need,” says Beford. “We try to be a gatherer of information and try to disseminate it to all who might benefit. It’s a way that faith-based groups and individuals can serve the community.”

These networks are able to create solutions such as distributing durable medical goods from someone who no longer needs them to someone who does, or providing for a specific need. “It could be diapers,” says Beford. “There’s a lady that does diapers. It really brings it down to a more local level.”

To participate in the IHHC’s support, networking, education, and advocacy efforts, contact Ron Beford at rbeford@yahoo.com.

Read about the IHHC 2014 Prayer Event at Read the Spirit

Read Rev. Timothy Ahrens’ IHHC Prayer Event address “Building Hope on Seen and Unseen Evidence”

 

Posted on June 23, 2014 .

Face to Faith

Q. Where can Metro Detroit teens go to play “Name that Faith”?

A. Face to Faith

In 2011, after participating in a panel of Chaldean and Jewish youth, Bloomfield Hills student Josh Morof, then a high school junior, was inspired to expand the interfaith dialogue.

He brought together 75 high school students at the West Bloomfield Jewish Community Center to hear from an Imam, a Rabbi and a Presbyterian Minister about the Abrahamic faiths, followed by a panel of Muslim, Jewish and Christian teens.

This was the kick-off for a program called Face to Faith, which was created as engaging and productive way to bring high school students from Metropolitan Detroit together to learn about diverse religions.

Having fun, learning and creating opportunities for dialogue, the group has participated in making and breaking bread together, ice breakers, mixers, team building exercises, learning sessions, games, and dialogue, using each as a way to break down myths and stereotypes and increase respect and understanding.

Over the last three years 50 to 75 teens have gathered at various houses of worship – churches, synagogues, mosques, and a Jain Temple - to learn about different faiths and to discuss their commonalities.

For the coming school year, the IFLC will assume coordination of this wonderful program from WISDOM (Women's Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro Detroit), in order for it to serve as a continuation of our very popular Religious Diversity Journeys for seventh graders. 

The IFLC is currently forming a committee to work with teens to coordinate the program, looking to expand the faiths represented, connect the Religious Diversity Journeys students to a continuing interfaith dialogue, and create self-sustaining on-going activities.

The next Planning Meeting for Face to Faith will be Monday, August 4th at 4:30 PM at the home of Gail Katz.

If you are interested in helping plan exciting after school events and visits to houses of worship in our Metro Detroit area (6:00 PM - 9:00 PM) for an interfaith group of 8th through 12 graders, please email gailkatz@comcast.net or call her at 248-978-6664 with your contact information.  

 

Posted on June 17, 2014 .

Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network

In 2010, Rabbi Dorit Edut participated in a Landmark Education personal and professional development program, The Landmark Forum. She came out of it with a vision of what she wanted to do.

A former crisis counselor and teacher, Rabbi Edut says, “I really saw at that time that what I was being called to do was lift up Detroit and work for its transformation through interfaith efforts. I have a lot of connections in the city and I’m really dedicated to seeing it flourish again and seeing it be a great place for everybody.”

She has brought together faith leaders from the city to form the Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network (DION) with the goal of working on education, conflict resolution, arts and culture, and interfaith relationships.

They started by holding interfaith services four times a year where participants could come and socialize over a potluck dinner and learn about different traditions.

“That has morphed into an all music service,” says Rabbi Edut. “We use music as a means of connecting people to our different faith traditions, to lift up Detroit through all kinds of music.”

Using principles of restorative justice, resolving conflict by recognizing and addressing injustice and brining people into a “win-win” sense of fairness, DION developed a conflict resolution program that can be used in many different settings.

DION’s education program works to motivate students by sending community volunteers into classrooms to speak about how they got into their careers, their challenges and success, and how their success relates to what is being taught in the classroom.

DION meetings are largely devoted to building an active interfaith network by hearing about what other groups are doing and working together to promote those programs.

“The idea is we don’t all reinvent the wheel, that we work together to promote the programs that are out there to help the children and families of Detroit,” says Rabbi Edut. “I like to think it’s done some good already. We have even bigger plans for the future.”

DION has a number of upcoming programs including their annual interfaith picnic on Belle Isle on August 3, and their interfaith music service on June 22.

Click for more information on Rabbi Edut, or DION.


Posted on May 27, 2014 .

Ecumenical Theological Seminary honors graduates and Spirit Award recipients

On Saturday, June 7, Detroit’s Ecumenical Theological Society (ETS) will graduate 26 clergy and lay leaders. These graduates will go out into the community as spiritual leaders, working to enact the ecumenical and ethical principles at the heart of the ETS mission to promote dialogue, consciousness and justice.

ETS is Detroit’s sole American Theological Seminaries accredited school in the Protestant tradition, with 130 students representing as many as 30 different denominations.

 “We look at ourselves as a hub that brings in the community and our students are the spokes,” says Margaret Priest, Vice President of Administration at ETS.

ETS will kick off the graduation weekend with its 8th Annual Spirit Awards Banquet on Thursday, June 5, at the Shriner’s Silver Garden in Southfield.

The dinner will be emceed by Glenda Lewis of WXYZ TV/ Channel 7.

It is, says Priest “an opportunity to recognize folks in the community who are representative of the ETS mission, to honor them for their moral commitment to the world around them.”

The 2014 Awardees

Inspirational Spirit Award

The Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr., 10th Bishop, Episcopal Diocese Michigan

Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Sr. V.P> of Community Health & Equity and Chief Wellness Officer, Henry Ford Health System

Spirit of Peace Award

Ms. Monique Marks, President and CEO, Franklin-Wright Settlement, Inc.

Spirit of ETS Student Award

Pastor Semmeal Thomas, City Covenant Church

David W. Swink Award

Mr. William White, Chairman and CFO, H.M. White, LLC

Spirit of ETS Alumni Award

Ms. Remonia Chapman, Executive Director, Detroit MOTTEP Foundation

Spirit of Unity Award

Ms. Rosy Latimore, Chairperson of the Multicultural Ministry Team, Presbytery of Detroit

Tickets for the dinner are $75 and can be purchased through the Ecumenical Theological Seminary website.

Posted on May 20, 2014 .

Community Chorus of Detroit Commemorates Terezin Requiem

As composer and conductor Rafael Schachter was rounded up for deportation to the Terezin concentration camp (Theresienstadt), he was able to grab a few of his most treasured possessions. One of the things he chose was a score of the Verdi Requiem.

The Requiem is a Roman Catholic funeral mass composed by Giuseppe Verdi in memory of his dear friend, poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni.

Terezin was a transit camp on the way to Auschwitz that was used for propaganda tours, most notably for a visit by the Danish Red Cross following deportation of Denmark’s Jews.

Schachter was able to secure permission to perform the requiem with a group of prisoners, and, with only one score, taught the over 200 pages of complex and challenging music to his chorus, which performed it 16 times, rehearsing in a damp cellar after long days of forced labor, and having to replace members as the Nazis transported them to Auschwitz.

This Sunday, May 18, the Community Chorus of Detroit will present a very special performance of the Requiem in commemoration of Schachter, his chorus, and their 16 performances.

They were singing “You will be punished for what you’re doing,” says Diane Linn, Executive Director and President of the Board of Directors of the Community Chorus of Detroit. “They were Jews who decided this was what they wanted to say to their captors. The last movement is called Liberame – Deliver Me. It’s almost unimaginable to imagine what it might have meant to those singers at Terezin.”

Linn is the driving force behind one of the latest signs of Detroit’s artistic revitalization, the three and a half year old Community Chorus of Detroit. A lifelong artist, art educator and arts manager, she has taught grades K-12, at Wayne State University, and at Center for Creative Studies, as well as serving as Director of Detroit’s Scarab Club.

Linn’s idea was that the city needed “an outstanding independent chorus that welcomed everyone without audition.”

Working with current Artistic Director and Conductor Edward Maki-Schramm, the chorus is up to 80 members, triple the number when Maki-Schramm assumed the role a year ago. Maki-Schramm is also the Associate Director of Philanthropy at Wayne State University and the Director of Music at Detroit’s Central United Methodist Church

“It feels like we’re meeting a need in the city,” says Linn. “We are part of this revitalization and this spirit of optimism. People are looking to political leadership, but also to the arts.”

Linn says that the chorus is like a family, and representative of the community, “gay and straight, black and white, all ages from 20 – 80.”  

“One of the social purposes of this concert is to build bridges across chronological, geographical and cultural boundaries,” says Linn.  

The Community Chorus of Detroit will be joined by the Archdiocesan Chorus of Detroit, the Cantata Academy Chorale, and the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir, making 175 members with a full symphony orchestra.

The concert will feature world class soloists and opening remarks by Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Rabbi Joseph Krakoff of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, and Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press.

The concert will be at 4:30 pm, Sunday, May 18, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased at http://www.communitychorusofdetroit.com/.

Posted on May 12, 2014 .

Bring Your Yoga Mats!

The idea of Dharma, which pertains to many different philosophies about universal order and right action, varies widely across many Eastern faiths.

On May 18, WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro Detroit) is offering the opportunity to explore the Dharmic faiths, and hear speakers discuss what it is like to practice Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism within the American context.

What is interesting, says WISDOM President, Dr. Paula Drewek, is “what’s left behind, and what retains value,” as those faiths are transplanted into the United States from their Eastern roots.

WISDOM was founded in 2006, out of the experience of four women of different faiths coming together and sharing their experiences. Today, they continue that tradition of interfaith dialogue and service, brining women together to pursue understanding, social justice, and world peace through programs like this one.

Dharmic Faiths, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism in America, will be interactive, including a yoga session, and a sample of foods from each tradition, “which will be an added delight, I think,” says Drewek.

The program is $10 per person and will take place 4:00 – 7:00 pm, at IONA (Islamic Organization of North America) 28630 Ryan Road, in Warren.

Participants should wear comfortable clothes and bring a yoga mat.

For more information on WISDOM, and to register for the program, go to WISDOM's website.

Dharmic Faiths speakers:

Dr. Rochana Junkasem (Buddhist)

Dr. Rochana Junkasem moved to the U.S. from Thailand at age 22 and began investigating both the Christian faith of her U.S. mentor and the Buddhist Faith of her father. She found an interest in Buddhism early at age 12. As an adult, she situated her faith within the Theravada Buddhist school.   She eventually settled in Bowling Green, Ohio where she taught for 26 years in the city school system and as an adjunct at Bowling Green State University.  She earned her Ph.D. in Art Education from the University of Toledo in 1984.  She is currently retired and residing in Toledo, Ohio.

Jatinder Kaur (Sikh)

Jatinder Kaur came to the United States in 1996 with her family (husband and two sons), and soon became involved in the local community.  Volunteering and working at her kids’ schools led to her current position as an ESL Educator with the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD).  Kaur does presentations at various organizations on Indian culture, religion, and society, and volunteers on adult literacy programs through Macomb Literacy Partners and the Sikh Society of Michigan.  She earned a graduate degree in Punjabi Language and Literature from Punjab University in India, and has pursued graduate coursework in education at Eastern Michigan University, and in social work at Wayne State University.  She likes to watch Tom and Jerry.

Anjali Vale, (Hindu) 

Anjali Vale is an active member of the Bharatiya Temple in Troy, serving on various committees and chairing an Outreach Committee.  She helped coordinate the Temple’s January, 2013 World Sabbath event, and conducts awareness workshops for the community. Vale is a member of the Vivekanand Yoga institute (a branch of the Banglore Yoga Institute, India) and is a certified Yoga Instructor, currently teaching in Farmington Hills & at the Bharatiya Temple. She believes in reaching out to people through teaching about various postures, breathing practices (Pranayama) and meditation to help balance stressful lives. Vale grew up in Mumbai, India, in an educated family and with an open mind to diverse cultures. She is an Electronics Engineer from Mumbai University, with a Masters in Industrial Technology from Eastern Michigan University. She is currently a Vehicle Integration Engineer at General Motors. She also serves on the board of the American Society of Engineers of Indian Origins (ASEI). Anjali is a wife and mother of two teenaged boys - Omkar & Shounak, and lives in Franklin, MI.

Posted on May 6, 2014 .

Community Leaders Gather for Press Conference to Issue A call to Prayer and Action

Click to scroll through photos

The Religious Leaders Forum of Metropolitan Detroit gathered last week to announce that they would mobilize the faith community to address the crucial unmet needs underlying violence in our region.

As they spoke, the message was clear - violence is the product of despair, frustration, anger, the inability to create a meaningful and satisfying life. It is as much a social issue as a criminal justice issue, caused by failures to provide education, public transportation, social services, mental health care, recreation, job training, and jobs.

The solution, according to Bishop Vann, of Second Ebenezer Church, is to “amalgamate our efforts, build a nexus of ongoing programs, and make the community aware that houses of worship are resources.” 

The Religious Leaders Forum drafted a statement, “Building Peace Together: A Call to Prayer and Action,” and was joined by Deputy Mayor Isaiah McKinnon, and Barbara McQuade, US Attorney for the Southeast District of Michigan, in announcing the statement to the press.

Speaking at the event, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron addressed the need for the faith community to commit to action. "Our creator has established a plan for our flourishing, and that plan includes that we should respect one another, and that, in all ages, we become agents of peace. This is in great part why we as members who lead our faith communities feel that it is so important for us to be here and to make this statement. Certainly programs for a year or two years are very important, but most important is the continuation, decade after decade, to raise up the next generation to be respectful of God’s will and to find our peace in doing God’s will and in caring for one another" 

The event was hosted by Second Ebenezer church, where prayers and reflections were offered by Bishop Edgar Vann, II of Second Ebenezer Church, Rev. Lawrence Glass, President of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity, Rabbi Harold Loss of Temple Israel, President David Olsen, Stake Presidency, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, Barbara L. McQuade, and Isaiah McKinnon, with the closing prayer offered by Rev. Jim Holley of The Historic Little Rock Baptist Church.

“When there is violence against anyone, there is violence against everyone,” said Barbara McQuade, who spoke of the need to combat a culture of violence, and create a sense of hope in our youth in order to prevent violence, and its high costs to the community. “Even better than prosecuting criminals or locking them up is preventing crime in the first place. Because when you prevent a crime, no one has to be a victim of crime. No one’s dead, no one’s assaulted. No one feels that pain. And when you prevent a crime from occurring, you don’t waste another life by locking it up at the expense of $30,000 a year to incarcerate someone. And don’t forget, when crime occurs, it’s not just the life of the victim that is torn apart, but the lives of the families of the criminal that are torn apart. They lose a loved one too, and the expense of all the contributions that those both of those people could have provided to our society is a great expense.”

IFLC President Robert Bruttell summarized the religious leaders’ call for efforts to address the causes of violence. “The rest of the community needs to realize that it’s an issue of resources, and the scale of the resources that are brought to bear needs to meet the scale of the need. If we want to thrive in the 21st century, we are going to need all our citizens to have opportunities and be able to contribute to the well-being of the community.”

Press Coverage:

http://www.freep.com/article/20140423/NEWS05/304230184/Religious-leaders-speak-out-against-violence

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140424/METRO08/304230118/Interfaith-leaders-join-forces-curb-violence-Metro-Detroit

http://apps.detroitnews.com/apps/multimedia/gallery.php?id=17877 

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/Faiths-unite-against-violence-in-Detroit/25626354

Building Community Requires Building Peace Together: A Statement of the Religious Leaders Forum

We the members of the Religious Leaders Forum have come together to say in one clear, moral voice that the entire region, which collectively our faiths represent, must join with one another to build a community of peace and compassion.

Hate and violence not only harm particular lives but they are destructive of the bonds of good will that hold our community together. They undermine the hope and faith necessary to build community.

We are all in this together. And so we say that it is the responsibility of all of us to work together, in fact to redouble our efforts, to strengthen the bonds of friendship and to meet the challenges hand-in-hand. We call on all people in our region to demonstrate our love for one another, to stem the violence in its many forms, so that metropolitan Detroit will thrive and be known far and wide as a region remarkable for its exceptional peace and goodwill toward all.

We ask all the people in our community, not only to raise their voices in prayer, but to also do the hard work that building community and living in peace together demands.

Endorsed by:

Rt. Rev. Wendell Gibbs, Jr - Bishop Episcopal Diocese of Michigan

Bishop Edgar Vann - Second Ebenezer Church

Most Reverend Allen Vigneron - Archbishop, Archdiocese of Detroit

Rabbi Harold Loss - Temple Israel

Rev. CL Glass, Pastor Lawrence Glass, President of the Council of Baptist Pastors Detroit and Vicinity, El Bethel Baptist Church

Rev. Deedee Coleman - First VP Council Baptist Pastors, Russell Street Baptist

Imam Steve Elturk, Co-chair of Imams Council MMCC, president IONA

Reverend Roger Mohr, Unitarian Universalist and Humanist, First Unitarian-Universalist Church of Detroit

Bishop Donald Kreiss, Bishop Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rev. George Shalhoub, St. Mary’s Antiochan Basilica

Rev. Allen Timm, Executive Presbyter, Presbyterian Church USA

Rev. James Holley, Historic Little Rock Baptist Church

Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini, Islamic Center of America

President Theodore Parsons, Bloomfield Hills Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Rabbi Michael Moskowitz, Immediate Past President Michigan Board of Rabbis, Congregation Shir Shalom

Rev Dr. Dan Krichbaum, Methodist, President Citizens Research Council

Posted on April 29, 2014 .