Our Amazing Faiths
44th Annual Luncheon
Thursday, December 4, 2014
More than 250 people of many faiths
have vibrant small-group dialogues
at 2014 Annual Luncheon
The more than 250 people of many faiths, ethnicities and cultures who came to the Italian Community Center for the Interfaith Conference's 44th annual luncheon on December 4 were much more than "attendees." They were fully engaged "participants" as they shared personal stories of their lived experiences of faith or philosophy at each table.
This was a remarkable luncheon, one that reached beyond staid, conventional program models.
Instead of having a keynote speaker, we had people get a taste of our highly successful Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue Program by having a half hour of moderated discussions at each table using an appreciative listening process that evokes deep sharing.
Instead of having faith groups and organizations purchase tables and sit with their own people, we dispersed people throughout the ballroom to achieve diversity at every table. People truly had personal, interfaith experiences that bridged differences and fostered understanding and friendship.
Dr. Rob Shelledy, Interfaith Conference Cabinet chair and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's Social Justice Ministry Coordinator, was the emcee. Tonen O'Connor, resident priest emerita of the Milwaukee Zen Center, opened the luncheon with this reflection:
"I'm most appreciative of this opportunity to offer a reflection as the invocation before today's luncheon, and of course the first thing we should share is our gratitude for the food we are about to eat, and our thanks to all those who had a hand in its journey to our table. Food has deep spiritual meaning within all faith traditions, and it is in this spirit that we offer our thanks.
"We gather together today as people of faith with trust that the deep divisions in our society can be healed. Within Buddhism there is an understanding that self and other are in truth, one being, inextricably interrelated, and that all beings are equal participants in this universe. This is what I ask you to consider today. Let us pledge to eliminate those deeply divisive words, "us" and "them" and replace them with "we," and thus take a small step forward toward an end to racial disparity, racial distrust, religious conflict, riots, poverty and the death of children.
"May the word "we" rise in our hearts so that we will look upon others and see ourselves. Recently in Istanbul, Pope Francis prayed that we may "overcome misunderstandings, divisions and disagreements and be a credible sign of unity and peace." The important word here is "credible." Lip service is not enough.
Please join me in a moment of silence within which we consecrate this meal to our determination to step past divisions and bring into being a credible "we.".........................................................................Thank you.
(We also gave awards to two exceptional individuals and two highly commedable organizations. Click on the link above this text's headline for details from our luncheon invitation.)
Download Flyer or Download Application or Email for Information
Prayer Service for Peace in the Middle East
(For news coverage of the prayer service, see: In the Media)
With conflict escalating in the Middle East, local religious leaders and adherents gathered for an interfaith Prayer Service for Peace in the Middle East at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 16, in All Saints’ Cathedral, Milwaukee.
The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee organized the service to unite people of many different faiths and denominations in the vision of a world where peace is possible and violence is not inevitable.
In every age and every hour, there are opportunities for diplomacy to defuse conflict, for wisdom to temper anger, for forgiveness to forestall vengeance and for faith to foster what is highest and best in the human spirit. Local leaders offered prayers and stood together, unified in their diversity, as an example of what is possible.
The service concluded with the singing of Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant us Peace), in Latin, Hebrew and Arabic.