Event on Islam draws 240 people
to church in Mequon on April 27
An energized crowd of 240 people from Mequon and other parts of the metro area listened, asked questions and applauded vigorously at an interfaith event on the evening of April 27 that was titled Exploring Islam: Addressing Difficult Questions. An interreligious conversation from Muslim, Christian and Jewish perspectives. Many lingered for refreshments and conversation aftewards.
Held at Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Mequon, the event was co-planned and co-sponsored by the church and the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee's Committee for Interfaith Understanding. The panelists were the Rev. Scott Hauser, Crossroads' senior pastor; Janan Najeeb, a founding member and president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition; and Rabbi Ronald Shapiro, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Shalom in Fox Point, the largest Jewish congregation in the Milwaukee area.
This was a follow-up to a similar event on Islam that the Interfaith Conference co-organized in February with the Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network (BEGIN). For that event, we rented the Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove and filled its 300 seats to capacity. Some latecomers had to be turned away.
These events are part of our continuing effort to counter hate, fear, prejudice and anxiety with interfaith education and personal contact that leads to understanding, tolerance and friendship.
Zeidler Program this Sunday, April 10
This is a reminder that the 2016 Frank P. Zeidler Memorial Lecture is this Sunday afternoon, April 10, at 3 p.m. in the downtown Public Library's Centennial Hall. The Interfaith Conference is involved in this free event, and our executive director is chairman of the planning committee, because the late Milwaukee mayor was one of our key founders in 1970. One of those pioneeers said in 2010 for our 40th anniversary that the Conference might not exist had it not been for his guidance and character.
This year's event features a balanced panel of presenters with perspectives from different points on the political spectrum. Dr. Tula Connell, labor historian and author of the newly published book, Conservative Counterrevolution: Challenging Liberalism in 1950s Milwaukee, will speak and dialogue with: State Rep. Fred Kessler (D), a colleague and admirer of Zeidler; and Mike Nichols, president of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a free-market think tank. The moderator will be veteran broadcast journalist Joanne Williams, who hosts MPTV's "Black Nouveau" program.
Islamic Society of Milwaukee Condemns Brussels Attacks
In case you did not see it, the Islamic Society of Milwaukee -- one of 17 member faiths/denominations of the Interfaith Conference -- quickly issued a statement condemning the attacks in Belgium last week. People sometimes ask, "Why don't Muslims speak out against such attacks?" They have...and they do. It just isn't prominently and repeatedly reported in many news media. The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee has consistently opposed such violence while also speaking out against religious hate and intolerance directed at any denomination or faith. .
(Milwaukee, Wisconsin, - March 22, 2016). Earlier this morning, the news media reported that attacks occurred in Brussels, Belgium, in which more than 30 people were killed and many more injured. It is widely reported that ISIS/ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attacks and that the attacks are in retaliation for the arrest of one or more of the perpetrators of the November 2015 Paris attacks. The Islamic Society of Milwaukee unequivocally condemns this morning's attacks and offers its condolences to the victims and their families and loved ones.
The Islamic Society of Milwaukee reiterates that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent. No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam. We repudiate and dissociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
The Islamic Society of Milwaukee also is a signatory to the 2005 Islamic Religious Edict Against Terrorism, which also states in part that, “It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.” The incongruity between this principle and the fact that this morning’s attacks were carried out at least in part in retaliation for the investigation and apprehension of those responsible for the Paris attacks, which the Islamic Society of Milwaukee also condemned, is noteworthy. We say again that we pray for law enforcement to apprehend all of those responsible for the Paris and Brussels attacks and for the safety of all.
More than 100 people stay for Interfaith
talkback at "Crowns" performance
More than 100 people remained for a post-performance panel presentation organized by the Interfaith Conference at the Skylight Music Theatre's performance of the Gospel musical "Crowns" on March 13. Women from six different faiths who cover their heads for religious and/or cultural purposes talked about the reasons for doing so, how that affects them and the reactions they get from others.
Although we aren't doing another panel, you can still get a 30% discount for tickets to the remaining performances by calling the box office at 414-291-7800 or online at www.skylightmusictheatre.org and using the discount code INTERFAITH. There are 7:30 p.m. performances (Wednesday) March 23, (Thursday) March 24, (Friday) March 25 and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (Saturday) March 26. The Skylight performs in Milwaukee's Third Ward in the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway.
Crowns is crafted around the tradition of African American women wearing elaborate hats to church services. The Skylight says, “In this jubilant Gospel musical, a teenager finds strength in a community of wise women who share powerful stories and songs connected to their magnificent church-going hats (aka Crowns).”
The Interfaith Conference and Calvary Baptist Church, the oldest African American Baptist Church in Milwaukee, co-sponsoring the talkback. The panelists on March 13 were from faith traditions where women cover their heads at religious services or for other religious or cultural purposes.
The panelists included:
- Sheri Williams Pannell – The show’s director and a member of Calvary Baptist Church. Calvary is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin, and its senior pastor, the Rev. Dr. John R. Walton, Jr., is a member of the Interfaith Conference board and its leadership executive committee.
- Janan Najeeb – A founding member and current president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition
- Dana Margolis – A member of Congregation Beth Jehudah, an Orthodox Jewish congregation, and a Senior Lecturer in the Hebrew Studies program at UWM.
- Shauna Singh Baldwin – An award-winning Canadian-American novelist of Indian descent who attends a Sikh Temple here
- Sister Zipporah Marigwa -- A Roman Catholic School Sister of Notre Dame from Kenya who is studying at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee
- Rev. Suzelle Lynch – Minister of Unitarian Universalist Church West, Brookfield, who has created special hats to wear for religious services and other church-related occasions, and who has studied the practice of head covering across faith traditions. The Unitarian Universalist Congregations of Southeast Wisconsin are one of 17 member faiths and denominations of the Interfaith Conference. She also is co-convenor of the Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network.
- The moderator was the Rev. Nancy Lanman, a United Methodist Deacon and chair of the Interfaith Conference's Committee for Interfaith Understanding.
Interfaith event on Islam draws capacity crowd
to Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove
Many thanks to the speakers for providing an outstanding interfaith experience on Thursday night, February 18, at our event, "What do we really know about Islam? Answering the difficult questions."
The Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove has 299 seats in its theater/auditorium. Community interest was so strong that we reached that capacity and then handed out contingency flyers to latecomers in the lobby and parking lot, expressing our deep gratitude for their interest, explaining that there were no more seats and no standing area. The flyer also invited them to contact us, saying that we would assure them seating at a similar event that the Interfaith Conference is organizing with Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Mequon on April 27, at the church.
It was an honor for the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee and the Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network to organize this event and to share the speakers' wisdom and energy.
Our moderator was Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi. Our speakers and welcomers included:
What Do We Really Know About Islam?:
- Janan Najeeb, a Founder and Current President of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition (MMWC), based in Greenfield, who the prior week became the first Muslim to lead the Wisconsin State Assembly in prayer prior to the start of a legislative session
Rabbi Jacob Herber, Past President of Wisconsin Council of Rabbis, Spiritual Leader of Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid in Glendale. Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem
Imam Noman Hussain from Islamic Society of Milwaukee West, the mosque that opened in Brookfield last year
Rev. Dr. John R. Walton, Jr., Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, the oldest African-American Baptist Church in Milwaukee
Rahul Dubey, Representative of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek and the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin in Brookfield
Rev. Nancy Lanman, Chair of Interfaith Conference’s Committee for Interfaith Understanding, and United Methodist representative on Interfaith Conference Cabinet
Rev. Suzelle Lynch, Deputy Convenor of Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network (BEGIN) and Minister of Unitarian Universalist Church West, Brookfield
Tom Heinen, Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee
(Photo courtesy of the Rev. Marie Onwubuariri)
Answering the Difficult Questions
With Muslim presenters, and perspectives from
Jewish, Christian and Sikh speakers
Moderator: Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi
Thursday, Feb. 18 -- 7 to 9 p.m.
800 Elm Grove Rd., Elm Grove
Free admission -- Seating is limited. Come early.
Organized by the Interfaith Conference
of Greater Milwaukee
Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network (BEGIN)
Open to the entire metropolitan area
Nearly 500 adults and children of diverse faiths, cultures and races participate in 30th Annual
Greater Milwaukee CROP Hunger Walk
Bolstered by warm breezes and sunny skies, the Interfaith Conference's 30th Annual Greater Milwaukee CROP Hunger walk drew an estimate of nearly 500 adults and children to the Milwaukee lakefront on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 11.
People from dozens of congregations, schools and organizations brought 6,000 pounds of food for the Hunger Task Force to McKinley Park, walked 2-mile or 5-mile routes and enjoyed lively music from the Salsabrosa Dance Company and the Mariachi Zamora band. Balloon hats, corn-husk crafts, a fun obstacle course and various donated snacks added to the afternoon's celebratory spirit.
A big thank you to St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Greendale, which collected an additional 9,000 pounds of nonperishable food at the church site for the CROP Walk,
In addition, Concordia University in Mequon collected 106 pounds of nonperishable food from students, staff and faculty as part of our CROP Hunger Walk effort.
AND...Tikkun Ha-Ir of Milwaukee collected more than 100 pounds of fresh produce at the lakefront walk site as part of a first-time effort to use the CROP Hunger Walk to improve the diets of food pantry clients by having people bring produce from their gardens or from the store. The Hunger Task Force distributed the produce. This was an extension of Tikkun Ha-Ir's success Surplus Harvest Milwaukee project and will be repeated for the 2016 Greater Milwaukee CROP Hunger Walk.
Dozens of volunteers from area schools and congregations helped make this year's walk a success.
Monetary donations and pledges are still being received, so we do not yet have a total.
Some 70% of the funding goes to Church World Service or other designated international agencies to address hunger, provide disaster relief and foster economic development. The remainder helps fund the walk itself and some local outreach.
Sikh Community joins Interfaith Conference
Let's welcome them at Aug. 1 Run/Walk
We have some great news. The Cabinet (board of directors) of the Interfaith Conference voted on July 17 to warmly welcome the Sikh Community and its Oak Creek and Brookfield temples as our newest faith, bringing to 17 the number of faiths and denominations that have formal membership at our board level. Sikhs have long participated in the planning and running of many of our events, and this
was a natural next step for them.
Let's welcome them by having a large Interfaith Conference turnout at their annual memorial Chardhi Kala run/walk on Saturday, August 1, 2015. It's free. There's entertainment, games and great food, whether you cheer or are able to do the run or the shorter walk. They would appreciate it if you would register in advance online at www.ck6k.org There will be on-site registration starting at 7 a.m. on the day of the event at the Oak Creek High School football field, 340 E. Puetz Rd.
The run/walk starts about 9 a.m.
Donations will be accepted to fund inclusive “American Dream” scholarships for 6 deserving youth from the metro Milwaukee area who exemplify the ideals that this nation was built upon and for a Memorial fund for building a structure in memory of the 6 lives lost in the tragic shooting at the Oak Creek Temple in 2012.
For more information, contact Rahul Dubey at (414) 949-9496 or email@example.com
Interfaith event at mosque in Brookfield draws large crowd for dialogue on prayer
Nearly 140 people heard representatives of 12 denominations and faiths give mini-presentations on the purpose of prayer and then broke into small groups for animated dialoguing on Sunday afternoon, May 3, at the newly opened mosque in Brookfield.
The free event included Middle Eastern food and tours of the mosque. It was hosted by the ISM Brookfield Mosque, organized by the Interfaith Conference's Committee for Interfaith Understanding and co-sponsored by the Brookfield Elm Grove Interfaith Network (BEGIN).
The theme was, "Interfaith Experience: Why do we pray? An exploration of the purpose and benefits of prayer."
This was a follow-up to a similar "Interfaith Experience" event the Interfaith Conference and BEGIN co-sponsored on Jan. 25th with the theme of "How do our faiths inspire us to treat the stranger?" at the Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield. A third event is being planned for this fall.
Representatives of the following denominations and faiths gave four-minute presentations on prayer at the May 3rd event:
Baha’i – Michael Paik, Lake Country Baha’i community, Waukesha County
Buddhism – Tonen O’Connor, Resident Priest Emerita, Milwaukee Zen Center
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Bishop Blake Fuhriman, Milwaukee
Wisconsin North Stake
Hinduism – Dr. Anoop K. Dhingra, Hindu Temple of Wisconsin, Pewaukee
Islam – Ahmed Quereshi, President of Islamic Society of Milwaukee
Islamic Sufism – Armita Saleki, M.T.O. School of Islamic Sufism, Racine County
Judaism – Rabbi Ronald Shapiro, Senior Rabbi at Congregation Shalom, Fox Point
Protestant Christianity – Rev. Kathleen Rinear, Convener of Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network (BEGIN) and senior pastor of Brookfield Congregational Church/United Church of Christ
Roman Catholic Christianity – Prof. Daniel Di Domizio, Religious Studies faculty, Cardinal Stritch University
Sikhism – Dr. Shubhi Sehgal, Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin, Brookfield
Unitarian Universalism – Rev. Suzelle Lynch, minister, Unitarian Universalist Church West, Brookfield
Zoroastrianism – Toranj Marphetia, Zoroastrian resident of Brookfield and a moderator for Interfaith Conference Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogues
People of Faith United for Justice
2015 Advocacy Day draws 700-plus people
About 700 people participated in the biennial People of Faith United for Justice advocacy day in Madison on April 29 to learn, discuss, pray and advocate together for social justice issues of importance to all the people of Wisconsin.
It was organized by the Wisconsin Council of Churches, WISDOM, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee and six other organizations.
The people shared their values, priorities and concerns as the Legislature was working on the next two-year state budget, striving to ensure that their commitment to compassion and justice is reflected in that budget. Their focus was on:
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Safety Net Issues (drug testing, Medicaid expansion, and long term care–IRIS)
- Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants
- Public Transit Issues, including preserving/expanding funding and keeping transit funding in the state transportation budget
Presentations and break-out sessions were held at Bethel Lutheran Church and First United Methodist Church in Madison near the State Capitol. After lunch, participants walked en masse around the Capitol and then visited the offices of their respective Senators and Assembly representatives.
The keynote speakers were:
** Hannah Rosenthal, CEO/President of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, and former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism for the U.S. State Department
** The Rev. Everett Mitchell, community relations director for UW-Madison and pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Madison, who holds master's degrees in Christian ethics and social ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Other co-organizers of the event included: Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, Madison Area Urban Ministry, Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Jewish Federation of Madison, Wisconsin Jewish Conference.
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.
2014 AWARD RECIPIENTS
Frank Zeidler Award
Rabbi Ronald Shapiro
For his leadership in social justice and interfaith relations, from his time as a rabbinical student and summer urban intern working with Fr. James Groppi’s National Welfare Rights Organization to his service as senior rabbi of Congregation Shalom over the past 36 years.
Rev. Herbert Huebschmann Urban Ministry Award
For providing natural healing therapies that transform the body, mind and spirit of people who could not otherwise afford these services, while forming community and breaking down barriers of social isolation and ethnic, racial and cultural separation.
Mark Rohlfing Memorial Award
For her outstanding service as a teacher who advocates for and exemplifies commitment to providing special education students in the Milwaukee Public Schools with an education that will afford a future for them within a society that does not always accept their challenges.
Youth/Young Adult Leadership Award
Marquette University Campus Ministry’s “Midnight Run”
For this student-led initiative’s 26 years of service to the hungry and homeless in Milwaukee through advocacy, awareness building and weekly volunteering by more than 150 students
at 12 meal programs and shelters throughout the area.