Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee

DEADLINES ARE NEARING! Buy tickets NOW for the Interfaith Conference's Annual Luncheon Thursday, December 6, 2018.

Gratitude: Faith/Diversity

People of all faiths or philosophies are invited to the opening reception and interfaith program for an exhibition of photos printed on banners with the theme of “Gratitude: Faith/Diversity” in the Rotunda of Milwaukee City Hall at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19 (three days before Thanksgiving).

Reception starts: 5:30 p.m.
Interfaith program: 6:00 p.m.
Reception ends: 7:30 p.m.

The exhibition - a collaboration of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) and the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee - runs through Friday, Nov. 23, and is accessible on days after the opening reception during normal City Hall business hours.

Download Flyer

Interfaith Conference Stands with Jewish Communities,
Condemns Anti-Semitic Violence at Pittsburgh Synagogue

The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee strongly condemns the anti-Semitic violence carried out against worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Although this atrocity has not taken place in our geographic area, we are aware of the effect such acts of terror can have on our local community.

Our prayers, our support, and our commitment to continue to act in solidarity are with those in Pittsburgh and our local Jewish community as they mourn and continue to struggle with the immoral scourge of anti-Semitism. The Interfaith Conference reaffirms our common commitment to the inherent dignity of every human being as made by a loving Creator and recommits itself to peacemaking and justice among our constituent bodies and beyond.

The Interfaith Conference is a 48-year-old nonprofit organization through which the regional leaders and adherents of 18 member faiths and denominations:

  • Dialogue to build personal relationships
  • Conduct public programming to counter hate and fear while fostering interfaith, intercultural and interracial understanding, tolerance and friendship
  • Work together on hunger, unemployment, environmental challenges and other social issues to create a better society for everyone

Nonmember faiths and denominations also help plan and participate.

Amazing Faiths reunion draws diverse crowd
New phase announced; offers more in-depth understanding

Our Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue (AFDD) program hosted its Annual Reunion Dinner on July 22, 2018 at Plymouth Church UCC, giving those who attended previous dinners the opportunity to rekindle old relationships and establish new ones.

Thirty-one dinner guests from eight faith traditions participated in the dinner dialogue with the theme “Stirring the Waters: An Interfaith Perspective on Water.” Stephen Hawkins, Program Director for our Interfaith Earth Network (IEN), opened the dialogue by sharing personal stories from his agricultural work with religious leaders in Uganda, where together they created community gardens able to withstand both droughts and flooding. Dinner guests were then served a vegan meal while they used our appreciative inquiry process to talk about the sacred qualities of water within their faith traditions.

At the event, AFDD Program Director Rhonda Hill also announced the introduction of our first Amazing Faiths Dinner 2.0 for those wishing to deepen their interreligious understanding. Hosted by faith communities, these dinners will combine presentations about the host faith with personal sharing. The M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism in Franksville (northern Racine County) will host the inaugural 2.0 dinner on Sunday, August 19, 2018 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. The event comes shortly before the Muslim Eid Ghorban or Eid Al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) and will include Muslim and Jewish explanations of the story of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice his son. To attend, please contact Rhonda at (414) 276-9050.

Lead-Safety Event Distributes
58 Water Filters

Our Interfaith Earth Network (IEN) sponsored a lead-safe homes open house event on June 7, 2018 at Hephatha Evangelical Lutheran Church for families in Milwaukee's Amani neighborhood. This was part of IEN's broader Justice at the Tap initiative.

In collaboration with the Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers' Lead Outreach staff, blood testing was available for children while parents learned about the dangers of lead exposure through paint, water, and soil. With the help of the Dominican Center and the Social Development Commission, 58 lead water filters (NSF/ANSI 53) were distributed to households with a total of 83 children under the age of six. A nutritionist was also present to share information about the importance of a healthy diet in preventing lead absorption. Refreshments high in calcium were served.

Event on "Mary" Draws 200 People

An Interfaith panel presentation on Mary drew some 200 people on Wednesday evening, May 9, 2018 to St. Mary Catholic Faith Community, 9520 W. Forest Home Ave., Hales Corners.

(For a YouTube video of the program, see Mary Video)

Titled “Mary, Mother of Jesus: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives,” it provided an exceptional opportunity for attendees to deepen their understanding of Mary: her Jewish roots, her position of honor in both the Christian and Muslim traditions, and different perspectives across the spectrum of Protestant and Catholic theologies and devotional practices.

Judith Longdin, former director of the Archdiocesan Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Concerns, was the moderator. Presenters included: Mary Matestic, Catholic educator and writer; Dr. Sherry Blumberg, Jewish educator and lecturer; Janan Najeeb, president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition; and the Rev. Karen Sundland, an American Baptist minister.

The free event was open to the public and was organized by our Committee for Interfaith Understanding. Najeeb is the current chair of that committee, and Sundland is a past chair.

Panel Presentation on Arranged Marriages

The Interfaith Conference arranged for a dynamic panel of five women from different faith and cultural backgrounds to give responses after the free screening of a movie about arranged marriages on the evening of May 7, 2018 in the
UW-Milwaukee Union Cinema. “Arranged,” the final offering in this year’s Milwaukee Muslim Film Festival, focused on a Muslim woman and an Orthodox Jewish woman who are friends and first-year teachers as their respective families strive to arrange marriages for them.

About 200 people attended the movie, and many remained to hear the presentations afterwards. Panelists commented on the movie and on traditional practices and contemporary changes in arranged-marriage customs in their faith and cultural traditions.

Panelists included:

  • Shauna Singh Baldwin, an award-winning Canadian-American novelist and playwright of Indian descent, who lives in Milwaukee and attends the Sikh temples in Brookfield and Oak Creek
  • Chava Metzger, Director of Educational Support at Yeshiva Elementary School (an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish school) and a practicing school psychologist
  • Liliane McFarlane, Grants Manager for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and a co-founder and member of the Milwaukee African Women’s Association
  • Mayhoua Moua, Executive Director of Southeast Asian Educational Development, founding president of the Hmong American Women’s Association, and founder of a consulting firm that provides translations and diversity training
  • Zehra Tahir, Vice Principal of Salam Middle and High School, school counselor, and board member of both the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and the Islamic Society of Milwaukee

The moderator was Janan Najeeb, a founder and president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, which organizes the film festival.

To our supporters & participants:
"Thank you for a stellar year!"

Interfaith Conference
of Greater Milwaukee

2017 Highlights

One Community” Program – Launched this fall to address structural causes of the area’s severe racial and economic segregation. We connect suburban and urban congregations to examine causes, bond through personal sharing, and get constituents motivated by faith to contact legislators.

Speaking Out – Issued statements on hate, refugees, synagogue bomb threats, and the beating of a local Muslim woman.

Renewing Hope – Our Interfaith Earth Network (IEN) marked its 10th anniversary with “Renewing Hope,” an inspirational open house that drew 200-plus people to the Urban Ecology Center for workshops, discussions, and interactive displays by 30 organizations offering practical ideas on water, food, education, energy, advocacy, waste, and more.

Get The Lead Out – Our IEN program director also worked part-time for the Milwaukee Water Commons and represented us as co-chair of a major effort to address health threats caused by lead in the city’s water system.

Hope, Unity – After violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., we had leaders from five faiths offer prayers of hope and unity in front of the Wisconsin Assembly at the start of its Aug. 17 special session. View the video clip here (Wait several seconds for the video to start after the freeze-frame photo appears).

Important Perspectives – Partnering with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, we held intercultural dinner dialogues for 400 people of diverse backgrounds, faiths, and philosophies during the run of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Disgraced, by Ayad Akhtar.

Women & Faith – An Interfaith panel of five women discussed womanhood and faith for a talkback audience of 90 people after a Rep performance of Akhtar’s challenging, The Who and The What.

“People of Faith United for Justice” – We, the Wisconsin Council of Churches and six other groups held this biennial advocacy day in Madison to protect the social safety net, confront sex trafficking in rural and suburban communities, and preserve clean drinking water.

Reaching Medical Professionals – We partnered with the Medical College of Wisconsin for an evening of multi-table, interfaith dinner dialogues with 70 students, faculty, and others.

Understanding Shabbat/Sabbath – Working with the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, we had six panelists talk on how different faiths set aside time for prayer and rest.

Tuesdays-in-March – The annual luncheon-lecture series organized by our PIIC Committee focused on “Youth Power: Inspiring Stories of Active Hope” and drew more than 200 attendees.

Greater Milwaukee CROP Hunger Walk – 400 people participated. Some proceeds are being shared with the Central City Churches and the Bay View Community Center food pantries. The award-winning Latino Arts Strings Program youths performed.

2016 and 2017 – Working with Rockwell Automation and its Faith Friendly and Allies Employee Resource Group, we conducted lunchtime dialogues and interfaith presentations for employees.

IFC Annual Luncheon crowd challenged, inspired

Dec. 7, 2017 – More than 300 people attended the Interfaith Conference’s 47th Annual Luncheon at the Italian Community Center, making it our second-largest annual luncheon in the past decade. It was timely, compelling, and inspirational.

Lecia Brooks, outreach director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, spoke on “How Wisconsin’s Faith Communities Can Respond to the Rising Visibility of Hate and Extremism in Wisconsin and Across the Nation.” Her photos of torch-bearing white supremacists and her statistics on hateful acts against African Americans, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and others were a galvanizing demonstration of the importance of the Interfaith Conference's work.

Judith Longdin, director of the Catholic Archdiocese’s Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Concerns since 1993 and a longtime Interfaith Conference leader received our Frank Zeidler Award from Elana Kahn, an Interfaith Cabinet members and director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and Janan Najeeb, a longtime member of our Committee for Interfaith Understanding and president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition. Her words and theirs painted a picture of the greater Milwaukee area's rich history of interfaith collaboration and outreach.

One highlight came when a religiously and racially diverse group of 21 people from the Sherman Park area representing congregations, community organizations, social service agencies, and city government gathered on the front platform for our urban ministry award to be presented to the Sherman Park Association of Religious Communities (SPARC) for teaching tolerance, celebrating diversity, and peacefully addressing important community concerns since 1985. Then Oriana Carey, chief executive officer of the Coalition for Children, Youth & Familes, accepted the Mark Rohlfing Memorial Award for CCYF and spoke about the importance of foster families and adoptions.

47th Annual Luncheon

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Italian Community Center
631 E. Chicago St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202 - Map

Registration: 11:00 a.m. Program/Lunch: Noon - 1:30 p.m. Starts promptly at Noon

$47 per seat (plus $2 online ordering fee)
$376 per table of 8 (plus $12 online ordering fee)
$400 Bronze Level per Benefactor table (no online ordering fee)
$500 Silver Level per Benefactor table (no online ordering fee)
$600 Gold Level per Benefactor table (no online ordering fee)

Keynote Speaker: Lecia Brooks
“How Wisconsin’s Faith Communities Can Respond to the Rising Visibility of Hate and Extremism in Wisconsin and Across the Nation”

Lecia Brooks is outreach director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which uses litigation, education, and advocacy to teach tolerance, fight hate, and seek justice for the most vulnerable members of society.


Frank Zeidler Award
Judith Longdin
For exceptional service since 1993 as an Interfaith Conference Cabinet member and officer, and as director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Concerns for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee – including assisting with the Conference’s various educational and social programs, co-chairing the Catholic-Jewish Conference, co-founding the Muslim-Catholic Women’s Dialogue and promoting
dialogue and relationship building on the local, regional and national levels.

Rev. Herbert Huebschmann Urban Ministry Award
Sherman Park Association of Religious Communities (SPARC)
For its vital work since 1985 in bringing together a wide variety of Sherman Park denominations and faiths to develop relationships and to join with neighborhood groups, social service organizations, government officials and others in teaching tolerance, celebrating diversity, and peacefully addressing important community concerns, including last year’s unrest.

Mark Rohlfing Memorial Award
Coalition for Children, Youth & FamiliesFor assisting people since 1984 who are changing the lives of children through foster care and adoption by connecting them with the information, training, education, and support they need to excel in their challenging and rewarding role. The coalition has expanded to serve foster families, provide technical assistance to agencies, and build state-wide recruitment campaigns.


Italian Community Center
631 E. Chicago St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202 - Map

Thursday, December 7, 2017
Registration: 11 a.m. to noon
Luncheon: Noon to 1:30 p.m.

For Questions: call (414) 276-9050 or email


Interfaith leaders open Wisconsin Assembly session
with prayers

Five leaders of diverse faiths from the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee offered inspirational prayers of hope and unity to open the Wisconsin Assembly's special sesson in the State Capitol on August 17, 2017. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos asked us to do this after we posted a statement in response to the racial hatred and violence in Charlottesville, S.C. (See statement below) You can view a short video by clicking on: Assembly Prayers (You will first see a freeze-frame image of the Assembly seating area. Wait several seconds and the video will begin)

Interfaith Conference statement
on hate in Charlottesville

The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee is urging people of all faiths throughout southeastern Wisconsin and beyond to speak out and stand guard against the white supremacist hatred that violently burst from the underbelly of our American culture in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

These hate groups are trying the soul of our society, and these are not the times for people of faith to respond with pious platitudes and lukewarm expressions of concern.

The world is all too familiar with the violent catastrophes that await a nation when racial and religious hatred are not vigorously opposed. Jews are still being vilified by contemporary hate groups. African Americans feel the continuing lash of racism, both subtle and brutal. The Sikh community here has felt the bitter sting of a white supremacist’s gunfire. We need no more reminders that none of us is immune from evil.

Religious leaders should preach out, speak out, and uphold the dignity of every person. People of good will should live up to the highest ideals of their faiths and philosophies and not merely mouth them behind closed doors.

There remains more light than darkness. Many local faiths, denominations, organizations and institutions work long hours to counter injustice, fear, hate, and bigotry. The Interfaith Conference is one of them. Find one. Add your voice. Add your energy. Even in the incredible busyness of our digitally connected lives, do what you can, whenever you can, wherever you can. And do it today. At some point, waiting for one more tomorrow could be too late.

Approved by Interfaith Conference Executive Commitee August 14, 2017


Please make a donation to support the vital work of the Interfaith Conference in these challenging times.

Or send checks to Interfaith Conference, 5409 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee, WI 53208

Upcoming Events

Interfaith Earth Network

Faith & Ecology:
A Conversation

Every 3rd Tuesday

Based on the book
"Moral Ground"
A reflective call to ethical action for environmental justice

Actualizing the
On the Table conversations.

Do we have a moral obligation?


Dec. 18 ....because we love the world.

Jan. 15 honor and celebrate the Earth and Earth systems.

Feb. 19 ....because our moral integrity requires us.

7 to 8:30 p.m.
Free & open to the public!

Urban Ecology Center
Riverside Park
1500 E. Park Pl.
Milwaukee, WI

For more information,
email Stephen Hawkins

This series invites persons of all faiths and spiritualities to gather
to reflect upon and converse about a chosen word or topic.

The Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue Project

8-12 people of any faith or spiritual background, or none at all, share a meal in an intimate space and discuss their beliefs and experiences in a moderated format that makes them feel safe and welcome.

For more information see the Amazing Faiths Page or call
(414) 276-9050

Also, check out Amazing Faiths on Facebook!

Contact Us

Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee
5409 W. Vliet St.
Milwaukee WI 53208

(414) 276-9050

Email Us:

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