In Times of Crisis, IFLC Continues the Work of Building the Beloved Community

Dr. Daniel Buttry

In many ways, doing Interfaith work at first is much like dating. We tread carefully around each other, afraid that we might say something wrong, or that what is precious to us won’t be valued. We dream of good, mutually-affirming and respectful relationships, but what we often end up with is shallow and sometimes wimpy feel-good religious mush.


But in our nearly 20 years of work since the crushing terror attacks of September 11, 2001, IFLC with many local interfaith organizations has moved the concept of interfaith work way past the dating phase and has moved into deeper relationships with other faiths. Relationships that can both take on the long-term commitments of building better communities, but also relationships that will be strong enough to stand up to the purveyors of fear, hatred and violence.


Because we have taken the time to go beyond the superficiality of first dates through forging deep relationships, we know who to turn to in times of crisis. 


For example, when radical Christian Terry Jones threatened to demonstrate with White Supremacists and burn a Koran in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn in June of 2014, IFLC countered this act of hatred and 1,000 clergy and lay leaders from across all faiths gathered on the steps of the ICA as a show of support. 


When in October of 2018 supremacists carried out the largest slaughter of Jews  in US history at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue,  and then when in 2019 a terrorist committed a senseless murder of Muslims praying in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, IFLC again led the way to bring our neighbors together to mourn and cope with our grief. 


But we need not have a crisis to come together. For adults, IFLC will continue to offer educational programs such as “Exploring Religious Landscapes”  and “Ask a..” These have proven to be meaningful, personable and informal dialogues about religion, though now we are working to bring them to you in a virtual way.  


Through technology and the ingenuity of our board, staff and area educators, Religious Diversity Journeys, our experiential world religions program for 7th graders, will go on virtually for hundreds of local schoolchildren.  RDJ for nearly 13 years has brought children of different faiths together to celebrate our religious differences.   RDJ answers the question of will our religious differences tear each other apart or give us a richness in building a better community? 


RDJ is our cornerstone program. It has impacted students, families, educators and school administrators could not have happened without the generosity of our donors. 


There’s so much more to do. In a time where our country is facing multiple pandemics from Cornoavirus, racism and religious bigotry, this is the time for more interfaith dialogue rather than less and for a time to go beyond dialogue. IFLC since the pandemic has continued to provide educational and social resources where people can find help and ease feelings of isolation. We have responded to this summer’s scourge of hatred towards our black neighbors and have provided information for congregations grappling with the question of how to open their buildings safely so congregants can worship together again in the near future. 


IFLC is ever thankful to our supporters. Without you, such past programming, and the friendships that result, would not be possible. With continued support, IFLC will continue to meet the challenge of building the beloved community. It starts this fall with the launch of our new Faith and Works podcast, a new, video-enhanced lecture series that delves into how faith shapes artistic expression, and continued growth of RDJ. 

We seek to continue and expand these programs through support from people like you. Please consider a donation through , or by clicking on the Donate button below.


Ways to Volunteer in Michigan During COVID-19

Ways to Volunteer in Michigan During COVID-19

The Time Is Now

Michigan Needs You. Your Fellow Americans Need You. Help Us Save Lives.

You Can Volunteer in the face of Coronavirus

The state of Michigan is calling on health care professionals who can volunteer their expertise.

You can make a difference to fight and slow the spread of COVID-19 … to deliver life-saving care to someone suffering and in pain … to deliver hope to the person who feels alone.

All Michiganders can volunteer their compassion and commitment to fighting this virus, and saving health and lives. Your time, talent and donations will have an impact now.

Visit often; additional opportunities will continue to be added as needs are identified.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Establishes hotline to help Detroiters turn water back on.

Credit: Curt Merlo

The following message is from Elin Warn Betanzo, founder of Safe Water Engineering, LLC about water restorations in Detroit.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) needs help to keep pushing out their number to anyone in Detroit who lacks water service.

Call Wayne Metro at 313-386-9727 to get the water turned on.

DWSD now has the call center capacity and the plumbers they need to get the water turned on, but the calls have slowed down. They need help finding occupied homes without water. Please share far and wide, especially if you personally know of homes without water.  Here is an update you with the latest information that I have from DWSD about water restorations in Detroit:

As of March 30, DWSD completed over two rounds distributing information to homes without water service that may be occupied. The first was for homes where service was shut off after April 2019. The second round, started early this week, reached out to about 5000 more homes where they have a record of accounts being shut off in the past. They say that most of these homes are vacant or do not look livable. They post data updates most days on this website

I still have some questions about the data, but they are finally making an effort to provide some transparency about this process. While this isn’t perfect, it is major progress.

While they had a huge influx of calls when they first announced the program, the calls have slowed down. They are not continuing to get an influx of new calls with the new notices about the ability to get the water turned back on. Now that they’ve brought on more plumbers they are confident they can get the water on by next week for those homes already in their work order system.

They want to turn water on for more people, but they can’t find them.

They also recognize that two weeks is too long to wait for water service. However, they still don’t have a clear path for systematically addressing the need for emergency water delivery and/or water stations. Of course, the city is struggling with all aspects or coronavirus response and every day fewer staff are available to work as they get ill or are quarantined. 

Elin Warn Betanzo
Safe Water Engineering, LLC