2020 Events and Activities

Ongoing Reports:

Founded in 1970, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee is a 50-year-old nonprofit organization through which the regional leaders and adherents of 20 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

We also work closely with several nonmember faiths.

As the United States has become increasingly religiously diverse, we have been at the forefront of efforts to counter misunderstanding, fear, anxiety and hate while fostering interfaith, intercultural, and interracial understanding, tolerance and friendships across county and city-suburban lines. 

Our various activities and programs include:

  • Committee for Interfaith Understanding that builds a better society amid growing diversity by conducting educational programs and bringing people together from a wide array of faith traditions to counter hate, fear, anxiety and bias by fostering understanding, tolerance and friendship.
  • An Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue Program that brings people of different faiths, philosophies, races and cultures together in private homes or intimate institutional settings for a vegetarian meal and a moderated dialogue about their lived experience of faith/philosophy. Our appreciative listening process evokes deep sharing. People can come to just one dinner, or more, as guests, hosts or trained moderators. 
  • An Interfaith Earth Network of Southeastern Wisconsin (IEN) whose mission is to inspire and support people of all faiths and faith communities to care for Earth based on their sacred teachings. Through education advocacy, actions and networking, IEN is a catalyst for congregations and people of faith to live, work and worship in environmentally sustainable ways.
  • An annual Tuesdays-in-March Luncheon Lecture Series organized by our Peace & International Issues Committee that addresses compelling local, regional and international issues. .
  • An Interfaith Restorative Practices Coalition that we convene and which provides a forum for sharing and collaboration by representatives of eight agencies and institutions that use principle-driven restorative practices to heal individuals and communities affected by crimes and other harmful acts. They also help congregations work through difficult internal issues. 
  • Co-sponsorship of a biennial People of Faith United for Justice advocacy day in Madison with the Wisconsin Council of Churches and other organizations that draws up to 1,000 people from across the state to focus on issues related to the proposed Wisconsin state budget and to meet with legislators.
  • Representatives on 9 area boards and commissions
  • And more.....The timeline below provides a great summary:      


Events and Activities 2020

Interfaith Advocacy

Aug 30, 2020 -  Interfaith Prayer Service, coordinated by Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, CUSH - Congregations to Serve Humanity  (An affiliate of the WISDOM network) and WISDOM, held a prayer service in Kenosha at Second Baptist Church at 2pm. Leaders from faith communities came together to speak prayers of healing and protection and justice.  Father David Simmons, Chair of the IFCGM Executive board, spoke to the crowd. Prayer by Fr. David Simmons 

Aug 29, 2020 - On Saturday, August 29, 2pm, "The March for Justice" organized by the family of Jacob Blake's. Thousands of people came, including Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, Rev. Jane Anderson, Interfaith Conference Executive board member, Pat McFarland and Rev. Marie Onwuburariri, and many other faith leaders. 

Aug 5, 2020  - Not In Our Town and Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee in conversation with Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Susan Bro, Dawn Collins, and Rami Jabara, as we share stories of loss, hope and a call to action. We will discuss activism, the challenges of hate crime reporting and prosecution, and the value of community action in support of families and individuals targeted by hate. The virtual conversation on Aug. 5th at 4 pm CST, was co-hosted and moderated by Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Executive Director of Interfaith Conference and Patrice O'Neill, CEO/Executive Producer of Not In Our Town.

July 30, 2020 - Statement on Voter Registration and Encouragement. During the election year, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee notes the first election of the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin, which takes its inspiration from the Declaration of Independence.

July 11, 2020 - The Black Catholic March for Racial Justice, initiated by Fr. Michael Bertram of St. Francis of Assisi and supported by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The march commemorates the commitment of the Catholic Church in Milwaukee to serve African American communities and seeks to promote peace, solidarity and equality. At St. Francis of Assisi Parish, 9:30 am, the march proceeded to the former site of Blessed Martin de Porres Parish (7th St. and Galena) and concluded at St. Benedict the Moor Parish (930 W State St., Milwaukee), for a distance of 1.3 miles.

June 30, 2020 -  discussion from The Council of Churches, Beyond the Slogans, with guest panelists including, Pardeep Singh Kaleka,former police officer, anti-racist speaker and educator. Important concepts behind slogans you may have seen and heard in recent protests. Short phrases and terms such as “defund/abolish the police,” “reparations,” and “Black Lives Matter,” can bring up many questions and raise barriers among would-be allies. Members of this panel have offered their time as activists to explain the impact of current structures and systems and how these terms describe changes that are essential to a more just community. Beyond the Slogans panel discussion

June 25, 2020 - Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition of Wisconsin Statement on Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobic Attacks, calling for policymakers to take xenophobic and racist threats seriously by publicy condeming hate acts and take action to dimantle systemic racism.  Asking everyone to refrain from using ethnicity and race to describe the virus.  Urging the median to discontinue the use of photgraphs depicting people of Asian descent in COVID-19 coverage and seek out the voice of the Asian community.  Encouraging the public to report hate incidents as many go unreported by victims, and that hinders the ability to appropriately track and address them.
American Baptist Churches of WisconsinBuddhist Peace Fellowship Milwaukee,  St. Paul African-Methodist Episcopal Church , The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee,  Greater Milwaukee SynodHindu Temple of WisconsinHours Against HateIslamic Society of MilwaukeeJewish Community Relations Council - MilwaukeeWisconsin Council of ChurchesJewish Federation of MadisonMICAH,  Milwaukee Jewish FederationLakeview Moravian ChurchPresbytery of MilwaukeeSikh Temple of WisconsinSikh Religious Society of WisconsinThe United Methodist ChurchMilwaukee Friends MeetingSoutheast Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist CongregationsWisconsin Conference United Church of ChristChurch of Jesus Christ in Southeast WisconsinWisconsin Faith Voices for Justice

June 22, 2020 - Ellen Braunstein of The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle interviews Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee's Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka about the rising harrasment of Asian Americans, the antisemitic incidents and increasing tension toward minority groups based on faith, race or religion.  The 21 members of the Interfaith Conference are committed to regular dialogue within its leadership, and focused on creating programs designed to increase interfaith understanding, advocacy and social justice. https://www.jewishchronicle.org/2020/06/22/interfaith-conference-director-fight-hate-with-understanding/ 

June 16, 2020 - The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee signs The Council of Floyd Advocates for Justice Advocacy statement directed to Governor Tony Evers requesting that June 19th, "Juneteenth Day" be declared a paid state holiday an either the Pan African flag or the Black Lives Matter flag be mounted and raised at the State Capitol of Madison.

June 5, 2020 -  Facebook Zoomcast: Pardeep Singh Kaleka gathers Interfaith leaders to share reflections of hope for systematic and spiritual progress with Maria A. Hamilton, Mothers For Justice United​ and Reggie Jackson, Nurturing Diversity Partners​. Also participating in the discussion was Rev. Dr. Marie Onwubuariri​, Regional Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin​, Shaykh Noman Hussain​, Imam, Islamic Society of Milwaukee​, Rabbi Noah Chertkoff, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Shalom Milwaukee​, Sarvesh Geddam, Hindu Temple of Wisconsin​, Ken Elbert, Stake President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints​, Reverend Reirin Alheidis Gumbel, Resident Priest, Milwaukee Zen Center​, Reverend Walter Jack Lanier, Chair of MICAH-Milwaukee​ religious leaders caucus, Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church (PBC)​, Pastor Greg Lewis, President of Pastors United​ and Assistant Pastor of St. Gabriel's Church​ of God in Christ, Souls to the Polls, Pardeep Singh Kaleka​, Sikh Temple of Wisconsin Oak Creek Youth Group​, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.

Watch full zoomcast on our Facebook page

To learn more about Maria's mission, go to: mothersunitedvoices.org

To learn more about the work that Reggie is doing go to: http://nurturingdiversity.us/ 

June 4, 2020 - Interfaith Conference, Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, having been a Milwaukee police officer, discusses recent protests over the killing of George Floyd and police-community relations in this radio interview with WUWM's Lake Effect Producer, Audrey Nowakowsky.
Listen to full interview on WUWM's Lake Effect with Audrey Nowakowski and Pardeep Singh Kaleka

May 27, 2020 -  A reflection about the death of George Floyd, from Interfaith Conference Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka: 

"Our Interfaith community mourns the death of George Floyd, we pray for his family, and we long for healing for the community in Minneapolis. We are sure that George’s name will be remembered by nearly all faith communities in memoriam. However, with that understood, we also know that we can not simply exist in states of mourning, prayer, and longing for betterment. Our calling is to put our faith into action and to be prophetic in both encouragement and denouncement.

This will require spiritual honesty. This will require genuine empathy to see a stranger the same way we see a friend. This will require a compassionate soul to not be offended by the truth of another simply because it doesn’t align with our own. This will require courage to be inconvenienced and maybe even alienated by those we may call friends and family. This will require every moment to be a learning and growing moment. This will require a commitment to action that stands up and denounces forces that invade the innate dignity of the individual, the family, and this society.

It is all too easy for the psyche to otherize a person based on physical and perceptual differences in dress, class, race, gender, actions, etc. Biologically, we were built to identify threats as the out-group. However, spiritually we are meant to challenge this limiting biological predisposition. When are meant to get to a deeper existence in which genuine faith overrides the habit mind to the point that there is no longer a stranger and the degradation of another becomes so repulsive that it eats away at our own human spirit. And at this point, we will be living out our faith." 
Pardeep's message on Facebook

May 9, 2020 Facebook Zoomcast: No More:  Ending Domestic Violence with the City of Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention" Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence. Grateful for the powerful voices of Reggie Moore, Karin Tyler, Natalie Hayden, Shawn Muhammad, Lanelle Ramey, Ray Mendoza, Dr. Marcus Arrington, Vaun Mayes, and Minister William Muhammad as they address the growing escalation of domestic violence in the city.
Watch full Facebook Zoomcast

April 12, 2020 - Seeking God in times of struggle: A collection of Interfaith prayers from Interfaith Conference faith members for enduring the COVID-19 struggle. 
Read full article: Seeking God in Times of Struggle

March 8, 2020 – Pardeep Singh Kaleka gives talk at First Unitarian on healing in the aftermath of hate.

March 2, 2020 - Near West Side Community Vigil, Gesu Church, 1145 W. Wisconsin Ave. Pastor Lisa Bates-Froiland from Redeemer Lutheran Church - Milwaukee presided over the vigil. Reflections by community, spiritual leaders, and Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell.

March 1, 2020 - Coordinated the Milwaukee Strong with the City of Milwaukee and 80% Coalition at City Hall, speakers included; Bishop Paul Erickson, Greater Milwaukee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; Ahmed Quereshi, Past President of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee; Rabbi Moishe Steigmann, Congregation Cnesses Israel; Bishop Jeffrey Haines, Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of Milwaukee; Rev. Walter Lanier, Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church; Rev. Kevin Stewart, Deacon of Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee; Rev. Reirin Gumbel, Resident Priest of Buddhist Peace Fellowship; Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, Senior Minister of First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee; Dr. Swaranjit Singh Aurora, Retired Professor of Sikh Temple of Wisconsin; Janan Najeeb, President of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition; Sarvesh Geddam, Hindu Temple of Wisconsin; Rev. Dr. John Richard Walton, Jr., Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Milwaukee; Rev. Marilyn Miller, President of Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope; Jeri Bonavia, Executive Director of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort; Linnea Stanton, Midwest Regional Director of March for Our Lives Wisconsin; Tracy Dent, President of Milwaukee Coalition Against Hate; and Ahmed Quereshi, Past President of Islamic Society of Milwaukee.











Outreach, Presentations & Representation

Dec 3, 2020 - Interfaith Conference 50th Annual Virtual Luncheon.  This year we selected Immediate Past Interfaith Conference Executive Director, Tom Heinen and his wife, Katie Heinen to receive the Frank Zeidler Award. The honor of receiving the Frank Zeidler Award speaks to those who exemplify Frank Zeidler’s character and legacy. It is given to an individual, or individuals, whose activities contribute to the religious communities’ involvement in social issues. Frank Zeidler was the Milwaukee Mayor from 1948 to 1960, but actually served our city longer as an unpaid civic activist, local historian, and social justice advocate. He was also one of the founders of Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. Tom and Katie Heinen accepted the award at the 50th Annual Virtual Luncheon on Thursday, December 3rd.

The Annual Luncheon featured keynote speaker, Dr. Reggie Williams, author of Bonhoeffer's Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance.  Dr. Williams’ research interests include Christological ethics, theological anthropology, Christian social ethics, the Harlem Renaissance, race, politics and black church life. The discussion with Dr. Reggie Williams was moderated by Interfaith Conference Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka.

A special feature of our 50th Annual Virtual Luncheon, was a video anthology of five decades of Interfaith Conference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ipsq6dqkZOM  Created by Interfaith Conference, Program Director, Cherrie Hanson and 3rd year Marquette University student, Ryan Hagan. Ryan is working on a degree in Cognitive Science and Digital Media. He's made other videos for the Marquette Wire, Generations Against Bullying (YouTube), and Walnut Way. His personal objective is to "create high-quality, socially relevant, thought-provoking content." 

Nov 8, 2020 - "Lessons from Kristellnacht: Confronting Hate" The Nathan & Esther Pelz Holocaust Resource Center hosted an online event commemorating the pogrom of 1938. Featured Wisconsin local Ms. Hilde Adler, who experienced Kristallnacht first-hand and escaped Nazi Germany with her family six months later.  Individuals from all religious backgrounds and many faith leaders and members of the Interfaith Conference gathered online as a community to recognize the devastating consequences of all forms of hatred and intolerance. This event will took place on HERC's Facebook page - www.facebook.com/HERCmilwaukee  Co-Hosted By:Coalition for Jewish Learning (CJL), Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), and Young Leadership Division of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Milwaukee Turners, Nathan & Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC) Ovation Jewish Home.  Participants from Interfaith Conference included, Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Program Director Cherrie Hanson,

Oct 24, 2020 - "Milwaukee Witness For Black Lives", by Black Lives Are Sacred MKE at 1:00 pm at Our Lady of Divine Providence’s St. Casimir Church, 2600 N Bremen St, Milwaukee. Not a protest, but a Witness and a march to Kilwabourn Reservoir Park of 2230 N. Bremen St, Milwaukee for a memorial service to remember black lives lost to racial violence. Prayer offerings from members and faith leaders from Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Pastor Thad Winkle from Bethel Bethany United Church of Christ. A witness from Linda & Jay Anderson Sr., who will speak to the memory of those in Milwaukee and America who should be alive and with their families. A prayer lead by Rev. Cecil Lacy whose ministry was informed by the death of his brother at the hands of MPD and music and inspiration from Fire Shed.  All traditions welcomed to witness to the value of Black Lives, pray for peace, and remember those who lost their lives as a result of racial violence. 

Oct 19, 2020 Kickoff for Early Voting, Interfaith Candlelight Rally” at Redeemer Lutheran Church.  Speakers included, Pardeep Kaleka, Janan Najeeb, Rev. Reirin Gumbel, and many others.

Oct 15, 2020  - “What are the Foundations of Social Justice?Panel discussion on the foundations of social justice with Anita Johnson and past award recipients of the Robert H. Friebert Social Justice Award, including James H. Hall, Danae Davis, Reggie Jackson, Fran Kaplan, Arno Michaelis, and Pardeep Singh Kaleka

Sept 24, 2020 - Minority Health Film Festival, Filmmaker Spotlight: Director Adam Zucker in conversation with Janan Najeeb, President of the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition.  This film is shown in collaboration with the Milwaukee Muslim Film Festival. The dialogue will be on Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7pm, live on Facebook. The event is sponsored by Interfaith Conference.

Sept 10, 2020  -  CIU Committee on a live Facebook Zoom with author Dr. Charles Cohen presentation and discussion of his book, "The Abrahamic Religions:  A Very Short Introduction" moderated by CIU Chair, and President of the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition.  CIU Committee members, Tonen O'Connor, Dan Di Domizio, Cherrie Hanson were responders for the Q&A.  To watch: View Charles Cohen and CIU

Aug 28, 2020 - Pardeep Singh Kaleka and Program Director, Cherrie Hanson also members of the Milwaukee Art Museum's Community Task Force, were given "Family Fun Passes" to distribute to members of their judicatories, offering free admission for the duration of the year.  The MAM Task Force objective is to help the Museum reach diverse audiences across Milwaukee through expansive hospitality, robust community programming, and art relevant to our community.
Interfaith Conference is honored to be in partnership with MAM for this strategic, more inclusive plan for MAM

Aug 27, 2020 -  Jim Santelle, former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and long time supporter and friend of Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee guided our Facebook audience us through the details of recent decisions of our High Court, addressing the meaning and impact of the Constitution's protections against governmental establishment of religion and preservations of the right to its free exercise. In addition to describing the factual and legal bases for those landmark rulings, Jim Santelle will comment on the practical significance of the Supreme Court's decisions for religious and non-faith-affiliated entities. The zoomcast gathering included: IFCGM Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, ICGM Program Director, Cherrie Hanson, and our special guest, IFCGM Executive Board Member, attorney Ahmed Quereshi.  Jim Santelle zoomcast on IFCGM Facebook

Aug 17 - Interfaith Prayer Service for the DNC.  (Redeemer Lutheran Church rooftop)  Watch Interfaith Prayer Service - YouTube
"In 1970, nine Christian denominations and the Jewish community came together to form the Interfaith Conference.  Today there are 21 different Christian and non-Christian member judicatories, organizations that oversee a total of more than 500 congregations.  We include mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Baha’i, Hindus, Latter-day Saints, Moravians, Pentecostals, Sikhs, Unitarian Universalists, and others.  At our core, we are a humanitarian organization whose motto is, ‘To uphold the dignity of every person.’  This year is our 50th Anniversary of celebrating faith diversity and the love for religious pluralism, and just like so many in Milwaukee, we anticipated a much different 2020. However, what we anticipate may be completely out of line with God’s will. And to be clear, I’m not saying that NOT celebrating anniversaries, or birthdays, or graduations is somehow God’s will I’m not saying that the division that seems to be so apparent in this world, is God’s will I’m not saying that suffering is God’s will.  And finally, I’m also not saying that COVID-19 is God’s will. What I am saying it that our God is a creative God, an Omnipresent, Omnipotent, a Guiding and Loving God. While we may see and be concerned about what we have to do in the next hour, or day, or maybe even months, we know that our creator can see well into the future. 

2020 represents a numerical clarity. This year we have been forced to humble ourselves and think about the frailness of our existence. We have been forced to be inconvenienced. This inconvenience and isolation has led to much needed reflection and introspection. We have been asked to prioritize both our value systems and whom we value. Not having access to all, provided us the opportunity to deepen our relationships to our immediate families and circles. And for some, deepen our relationship with ourselves. Our earth, which has long felt the strain of our industrial aspirations with rising CO2 levels, has been able to breathe once again. We will eventually come out of this season, and we will all look back at 2020 and all that it entailed for our faith families, our organizations, our city, and ourselves. However, if we don’t learn from what the creative spirit is trying to teach us in this moment in history, then we as a species will have severed not only our connection to one another but we will have severed our relationship with this earth. My simple prayer for our city and world is that we trust the vision and the dangers that our creator is attempting to show us, and we come together and invest in a reconnecting with ourselves, with our families, our communities, and this one and only earth that we call home. Often times we say, Pain without purpose is pointless, however purpose derived from pain is the most powerful. Our God is attempting to fix our gaze not on the present moment but on our future.  If 5, 10, 50, 100 years from now, we, our children, our children’s children look back at 2020 and reflect on this year being a tipping towards the betterment of our city, and a deepening of our connection with each other, and this planet, then this year would indeed have served the spiritual purpose that God is attempting to manifest.

This morning, we are blessed as we are surrounded by Interfaith leaders who understand all of this and understand the time and place that our existence is in. We are honored to be joined by them as we offer Interfaith Invocations of Hope and Healing from our respective faiths.” (Pardeep Singh Kaleka)

Interfaith Leaders and Presenters:

·       Aaron Musser-Redeemer Church, performance of “One Voice”

·       Pardeep Singh Kaleka - Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Sikh Temple of Wisconsin

·       The Rev. David Simmons - Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, Rector of St. Matthias Episcopal Church

·       The Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom - First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

·       Imam Noman Hussain - Islamic Society of Milwaukee

·       Rev. Dr. John R. Walton Jr. - American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin, Calvary Baptist Church of Milwaukee

·       Rabbi Moishe Steigmann - The Spark Wisconsin

·       Rev. Christie Melby-Gibbons - The Moravian Church

·       Sarvesh Geddam - Hindu Temple of Wisconsin

·       Rev. Mary Carlin - Presbytery of Milwaukee, Pastor St. Luke's United Church of Christ

·       Minister Byron Johnson -  Progressive Baptist Church

·       Rev. Lisa Bates-Greater Milwaukee Synod (ELCA) - Pastor Redeemer Church

·       Cherrie Hanson - Program Director, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, peformance of “Get Together”

Aug 17-24, 2020 - Interfaith Conference Program Director, Cherrie Hanson, collaborated with Ignatian Associates Chair, Maria Avila, for the Peaceful Presence Program, a nonpartisan, inter-faith* experience focusing on the promotion of harmony and peace.  Videos submissions by faith leaders and other presenters, and musicians to be posted daily during the national conventions of the Democratic and the Republican parties to pray for peace and for our leaders. Other sponsors for the program include, MICAH, The Center for Peacemaking at Marquette University, Caso Romero Renewal Center. The website to view videos: http://ignatianassociates.org/peaceful-presence/
Aug 16, 2020 - DNC Opening Invocation Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Executive Director, Pardeep SIngh Kaleka, delivered the opening invocation, marking a historic first for a Sikh at the DNC. 
Pardeep Singh Kaleka's opening invocation at the 2020 DNC

Aug 15, 2020 - "Revival in the Garden: Imagining a Better World" a live and virtual presentation hosted by Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Vote Common Good, Tricklebee Cafe RAW Tools, Peace Garden Project MKE, and Red Letter Christians. As the Democratic National Convention convened, a "Revival in the Garden" — literally meeting in a community garden in Milwaukee - broadcasted around the world. We’ll hear from people who have been impacted by racism, war, and violence in all its ugly forms. Music, poetry, dance and presentations from noon- 7 pm in Alice's Garden.
Aug 13, 2020 - VISIT Milwaukee 
showcasing the beauty of our sacred spaces in Milwaukee, narrated by Interfaith Conference Executive Director, Pardeep SIngh Kaleka. VISIT Milwaukee

Aug 8 and 9, 2020 - Peace Cup Cricket 2020 sponsored by Sewa Foundation and Interfaith Conference commemorating the 8th anniversary of the Oak Creek SIkh Memorial Rememberance to honor those whose lives were lost on Aug 5, 2012.
May 31, 2020 - "St. Francis Serenades" at Clare Hall, St. Francis, WI. Interfaith Conference's Program Coordinator, Cherrie Hanson, envisioned a front lawn serenade for the guests, volunteers and health care workers at Clare Hall in St. Francis, WI. The quiet setting of the building and its arms-open-wide shape seemed acoustically opportune to perform al fresco. With the help of Interfaith Conference’s Executive Board Treasurer, Rob Shelledy and the Director of Community Relations for the Archdiocese, Lydia Lococo, and Jim Mathy, the Milwaukee County representative managing the Clare Hall, the serenade project was approved.

Clare Hall, previously a retirement home for the Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi, has become a repurposed safe haven for at risk homeless men and women during the pandemic. The City of Milwaukee partnered with the Archdiocese and the National Guard to reopen the unoccupied building.

Cherrie invited friends, Susan and Jack Nicholson of the musical duo, Frogwater to join her for the first event. The Nicholson’s local legacy includes performing at Irish Fest, County Clare, Summerfest, Shawno Folk Music Festival, and Renaissance Theater Works and UPAF promoting community arts funding and awareness. Their virtuosity spans a repertoire from celtic, folk, blues, classical and a bounty of original compositions. They immediately accepted the chance to gift their talents to brighten the spirits of guests quarantined at Clare Hall.

Although this live outdoor event was not open to the public, to protect everyone involved and maintain social distancing, it was recorded and shared on Facebook.

Gratitude and appreciation for Jim Mathy and the staff who helped set the stage for a delightful respite from the heaviness of these days.
Bless the Nicholson family for their open hearts and toe tapping tunes.

May 4, 2020 - “This is Milwaukee Project” is a direct encounter with Milwaukeeans who embody the notion of citizenship. We've interviewed nearly 100 people, many of whom are doing heroic work as Milwaukee responds to Covid-19.  "This is Milwaukee Talking" is our attempt to adapt our project during the health crisis, an online conversation with three of our project's subjects, facilitated by Adam Carr, who instigated these informal, virtual get togethers. Our fourth event will include Joey Zocher, Pardeep Singh Kaleka and Cree Myles.

March 9, 2020 - Opening of the Interfaith Space at Mt. Mary University, speakers including Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Janan Najeeb, Rabbi Michal Woll, John Daniels, and others.  Katie B. Coffey, Director of Campus Ministry at Mount Mary University invited Interaith Conference to the event. Mount Mary had 11 differenct faith religions represented on their campus.  The space is designed to be an inclusive, welcoming, and peaceful space for students to explore their spiritual selves, meet with other seekers, and take a rest from the busyness of life.

"Thank you so much for your coordinating efforts and welcome at Mount Mary's Place of Peace Grand Opening.  I am very grateful for your guidance as we continue making MMU a more hospitable and includive campus for all."  (Katie B. Coffey, Director of Campus Ministry)

March 8, 2020 – Interfaith Voter Ambassador Training at Lake Park Synagogue in Milwaukee, WI. Volunteers from League of Women Voters and Souls to the Polls trained participants to help voters with registration and navigate Wisconsin’s new voter ID laws.  Hosted by Tikkun Ha-ir of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, Milwaukee Zen Center, and Lake Park Synagogue

February 12, 2020 - Moderating faith leaders panel at Northwestern Mutual, w/ Archbishop Jerome Listecki, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Ahmed Quereshi, Islamic Society of Milwaukee, Miryam Rosenzweig, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Bishop Paul Erickson, Greater Milwaukee Synod.
Also in attendance were DNC Host Committee, Pastor Teresa Boyd, Janan Najeeb, and Rev.Walter J. Lanier.

January 12, 2020 - St. Boniface Catholic Parish, 6-10th graders, exploring the role of faith and bullying.


New Member Faiths/Denominations

Sept 24, 2020 -  We are pleased to announce the Milwaukee Metropolitan City Church becomes the 22 member faith to join the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. Rev Tory Topjian is the faith leader of this 49 year old congregation.  It's other church,The Angels of Hope Metropolitan Community Church is located in Greenbay, WI. Metropolitan Community Churches originally started to provide a place for LGBTQI+ persons to worship, who were either rejected or oppressed from their faith tradition. Worship is a blend of many traditions and styles, including a variety of music, scriptures, prayers and Communion (Holy Eucharist) .  Service is not very formal or filled with rituals, but instead offers a relaxed, opened and inviting environment. MCCWebsite  The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches was founded in 1968 by The Reverend Troy D. Perry, to provide safe space for LGBTQ individuals to practice their faith. Milwaukee MCC, under the umbrella of The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, states on their website, as do all Metropolitan Community Churches, that they are a “Vibrant, Inclusive, Progressive (VIP) Community of Faith that welcomes everyone, with a unique call to the LGBTQ community.” 

May 27, 2020 - We are pleased to announce the Baha'is of Southeastern Wisconsin have joined the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. Dick Smith, a member of the Committee for Interfaith Understanding (CIU), will be the Baha'i representative on the Conference board. The Founder of the Baha'i faith, Baha'u'llah, outlined a framework for the development of a global civilization wherein the central teaching is the unity of humanity under one God.  In Southeastern Wisconsin there are six local Spiritual Assemblies: Wauwatosa, Cedarburg, Brookfield, Waukesha, New Berlin and Milwaukee. The Assembly, which consist of nine adults who are chosen at annual elections, functions as a body and makes decisions through consultation. The Baha'i National Spiritual Assembly is based in Evanston, Illinios. To learn more about the Baha'i Faith visit:  https://www.bahai.org/  or https://www.bahai.us/

the Interfaith Conference now represents the top regional leaders and adherents of 21 different faiths and denominations. We are judicatory-based rather than congregation based. Our member "judicatories" assist, oversee or manage multiple congregations, with the exception of some small faiths that have only one or two worship sites in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogues Program

Our Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue Program brings people of different faiths, philosophies, races and cultures together in private homes or intimate institutional settings for a vegetarian meal and a moderated dialogue about their lived experience of faith/philosophy. Our appreciative listening process evokes deep sharing. People can come to just one dinner, or more, as guests, hosts or trained moderators.

March 8, 2020 - Interfaith Conference’s Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints graciously opened their home and hearts to guests from 20 different religious traditions and others who consider themselves spiritual or of no particular faith. Everyone had the opportunity to share their life experiences with smaller groups during the moderated portion of the evening. At my table, four out of seven guests were born outside the USA and all but one had practiced more than one faith in their lives. There was an incredible enthusiasm to learn about each other while we ate a delicious vegetarian meal. Cherrie Hanson, the new Program Coordinator counted 33 participants, 19 of them were first time attendees, 25 had a great change in perception of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 100% surveyed said they would recommend the program to a friend and return for another dinner dialogue. 27 felt that as a result of this program, they would very likely develop a friendhsip with a person of another faith tradition. We thank our hosts, Stake President Ken Elbert, his wife Mary, President of the Relief Society Alison Watson, Brett Seamons and many more, made the event a pleasure in every way.

February 15, 2020 - AFDD moderator training workshops with Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, Dr. Irfan Omar, and MU Interfaith students. Amazing Faiths Project, Program Director, Cherrie Hanson and IFCGM Executive Director Pardeep Singh Kaleka prepared students to moderate two programs in March at Sensenbrenner Hall for students of Professor Irfan Omar’s class, “Christian-Muslim Dialogue”.

Committee for Interfaith Understanding (CIU)

Sept 10, 2020 - Dr. Charles Cohen, author of The Abrahamic Religions; A Very Short Introduction, presented the braided histories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam on a zoomcast moderated by CIU committee chairwoman Janan Najeeb, President of the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition.  Members of the CIU committee responded to the presentation. The three faiths are grounded in their veneration of the One God proclaimed by Abraham and have intertwined histories and interactions.  Watch on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/mkemwc/videos/1020266961745355

May 21, 2020 - Our third zoomcast series, "Deepening our Faith Through the Pandemic" features a conversation with Unitarian Universalist community minister, and long time Interfaith Conference committee member, Rev. Dr. Bobbie Groth and Buddhist Rodney Sanchez who studies and practices Buddhist teachings, is active in the Milwaukee Interfaith community, and  on the Committee for Interfaith Understanding of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. His Sangha practice, hosted with his wife Bethany takes place at the Tender Shoot of Joy Dharma Center in Milwaukee.

In this zoomcast, hosted by Interfaith Conference's Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, we explore the role of suffering and healing within Buddhism and the balance between our beliefs and putting it into action for the Unitarian community. Each guest shares their personal life experiences and how they have helped others during this time of Covid-19.
Deepening Our Faith Zoomcast 5/21/2020

May 6, 2020 - On this Facebook webinar called, "Deepening Our Faith Through the Pandemic" we featured a discussion with The Reverend Dr. John Richard Walton, Jr. of American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin and Janan Najeeb, President of Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition. We explored the need for communities to continually reflect and grow during the pandemic and discuss the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. 
Deepening Our Faith Zoomcast 5/6/2020

April 6, 2020 -  Our kickoff facebook zoomcast series, "Deepening Our Faith Through the Pandemic" explores the effects of COVID-19 are taking an emotional, physical and spiritual toll on us all and how faith leaders are helping our communities navigate these challenging times.  Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee's  Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka invited Imam Noman Hussain from the Islamic Society of Wisconsin, Rabbi Noah Chertkoff from Congregation Shalom Milwaukee, and Rev. Dr. Lisa Bates-Froiland from Redeemer Lutheran Church - Milwaukee to discuss how they are staying in touch with their communities and their plans to handle observances of holy days safely. Clergy are leading cooperative worship and study through Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook Live throughout the week.
Deepening Our Faith Zoomcast 4/6/2020

January 26, 2020 - "Interfaith Music and Fest for Peace and Unity” at Brown Deer United Methodist Church,
5736 W.Brown Deer Road, Brown Deer, WI. A coat drive donation event with music from various faith traditions. Soup, bread and pastries were served while people mingled and listen to performers in the church.  Musicians included Val Sigal, Cherrie Hanson, Jane Wester, Chris Deily, Mary Stryck, Rae Ellen Sena, Kay Reppen, Anne Van Deussen, Cantor Karen Berman of Congregation Shalom, and David Noll.  Planning Committee included Pastor Ellen Rasmussen, Joe Masterson, Heather Forbes, Nooshin Nekooei, Hamid Dehbod, Jane Wester, David Noll and Jackie Haessly.  Event was co-sponsored by Brown Deer Methodist Church and Northern Milwaukee County Interfaith Group.


May 22, 2020 TMJ news: "Wisconsin Churches can resume services, but many are choosing to wait."  The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee representing more than 20 faiths in Southeast Wisconsin say their 500 different churches, synagogues and temples have also headed online and don’t plan in-person services for awhile.  “Most of the plans are June, July and some of the faith partners are thinking of 2021. Waiting out the whole year,” said Pardeep Kaleka, executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.

President Donald Trump called on governors to deem places of worship “essential” to allow religious services. For Wisconsin, this call comes for a state with no order prohibiting any churches from restricting in-person services. Wisconsin Council of Churches which represents more than a million church members, said the only restrictions in the state are from local health departments and faith organizations themselves. They are urging caution.
TMJ News: Wisconsin Churches can resume services, but many are choosing to wait


April 24, 2020 -  Shepherd Express News:  At a time when some citizens are demanding that our state immediately be opened up for business, we joined together to ask that we open our hearts to all those who are suffering and our minds to the science and facts that will lead us forward safely. WAVE Educational Fund is hosted a virtual community gathering which anyone could attend to help comfort, support and uplift all Wisconsinites who are grieving or struggling during this perilous time. Through words and music, we paid tribute to those who have lost their lives or are fighting for their lives. By honoring their loved ones, we hope for some comfort to families and friends. The message to all who are hurting: we see you, we hear you, we care about you, and we will stand with you. Speakers included:  Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (invited) - Rep. David Bowen - Rev. Scott Marrese-Wheeler, Pastor, Oakland-Cambridge Presbyterian Church - Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Executive Director, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee - Bridget Robinson, Program Director, Safe & Sound - Olu Sijuwade, former WAVE Ed Fund board and staff member - Deja Garner, Community Outreach Coordinator, WAVE Ed Fund - Jeri Bonavia, Executive Director, WAVE Ed Fund.  Shepherd Express news article


April 23, 2020 -  WUWM Lake Effect with Audrey Nowakowsky:  Wisconsin faith leaders have came out in support of Gov. Tony Evers order and have “chosen to demonstrate our love of neighbors by closing our doors during the COVID-19 pandemic," according to a statement from the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. Interfaith’s Executive Director, Pardeep Kaleka notes that all faith representatives involved in Interfaith agree that the value of human life and dignity is their highest concern. "This has created a physical, mental and spiritual toll on us all. I think what is coming to the surface really clearly are the inequities that exist and have existed for a very long time," he says. 

Listen to Lake Effect broadcast with Pardeep Singh Kaleka and Audrey Nowakowsky


April 23, 2020 - How local faith leaders are encouraging social, not spiritual distancing. Then, our astronomy contributor walks us through an at-home experiment we can do to track the sun’s movements. We learn how gardening can inspire creativity and expend some energy for kids stuck at home. Plus, an essay about mindfulness. Guests included:

  • Pardeep SIngh Kaleka, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee;
  • Ahmed Quereshi, Islamic Society of Milwaukee;
  • Rabbi Hannah Wallick, Milwaukee Jewish Federation;
  • Bishop Steven Andrew Miller, Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee
  • Jean Creighton, astronomy contributor
  • Melinda Myers, gardening contributor
  • Barbara Miner, writer and essayist
  • Juliana Hatfield, musician
    Listen to broadcast on WUWM's Lake Effect

April 21, 2020PRI - The World's, Matthew Bell talked with Interfaith leaders about how they put things like COVID-19 into a religious perspective. Appreciate including the perspective of Retired Prof. Dr Swaranjit Singh Aurora from the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin, PRI Public Radio International 
Listen to full interview on PRI


April 12, 2020 - Seeking God in times of struggle: A collection of Interfaith prayers from Interfaith Conference faith members for enduring the COVID-19 struggle. 
Read all prayers at milwaukeeindependent.com


April 9, 2020 Grateful for our Interfaith leadership during these times. While we may want to gather and communal embrace one another during this Holy month, we all have a responsibility to keep each other safe. Any mixed messages during these times are completely misguided and reckless. Faith organizations supporting the statement by the Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller, Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee:
American Baptist Churches of WisconsinBuddhist Peace Fellowship MilwaukeeThe Episcopal Diocese of MilwaukeeGreater Milwaukee SynodHindu Temple of WisconsinIslamic Society of MilwaukeeJewish Community Relations Council - MilwaukeeMoravianMTO ShahmaghsoudiMilwaukee Friends MeetingSikh Temple of WisconsinSoutheast Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist CongregationsUnited Church of ChristMilwaukee Zen CenterWisconsin Council of ChurchesUnitarian Universalist Church WestFirst Unitarian Society of Milwaukee,@wisconsinumc, Milwaukee Jewish FederationSt. Paul African-Methodist Episcopal ChurchPresbytery of MilwaukeeTheChurchOfJesusChristofLatterdaySaints

Read article at milwaukeeindependent.com


Peace and International Issues Committee (PIIC)

March 3, 10 17, 24, 31, 2020 – PIIC Tuesdays in March series, “Truth…or Consequences".   (Due to Covid-19 the series was postponed after March 10th event).
Sponsored by the Peace and International Issues Committee of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. Hosted by First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee – Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Presenters were as follows:

George Stanley has built the Journal Sentinel’s process for in-depth reporting and its investigative team as editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel since 2015, managing editor since 1997, and regional editor of USA TODAY Network Wisconsin. From 1993-‘97, he served as business editor. He joined the Sentinel in 1989 as a reporter covering statewide issues, including conservation, the environment, agriculture, and natural resources.  He grew up in Green Bay and is a graduate of UW-Madison. He is vice president of the national News Leaders Association.

Matt Rothschild is executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks and exposes the problem of money in local politics and advocates for a democracy in which everyone has an equal voice. He previously was at The Progressive magazine for 32 years, most of that time as editor & publisher. He testifies frequently at the State Capitol. His op-eds appear regularly in the Madison Capital TimesUrban MilwaukeeThe Wisconsin Examiner, and the Wisconsin State Journal. He can be heard on Wisconsin Public Radio and several other Wisconsin stations.


Joanne Williams is host of Milwaukee Public Television's award-winning Black Nouveau program, former television news anchor and past president of the milwaukee Press Club.


Kathleen Dunn is the retired host of The kathleen Dunn Show, which was on Wisconsin Public  Radio for 24 years, and member of Milwaukee Media Hall of Fame.

Paul Oren is a Milwaukee native and professor in Communication Department and faculty advisor to the student newspaper at Valparaise University, Indiana, and journalist for the Times of Northwest Indiana.

Pardeep Singh Kaleka is the Executive Director of Interfaith Conference of Milwaukee, and a clinical therapist.


Interfaith Restorative Practices Coalition 

Restorative practices are listening and communication skills that honor the dignity of each one of us. Restorative practices can be used with adults, youth, and children to prevent conflict, to manage conflict, or to heal broken relationships that have been impacted by conflict. People are coming to recognize restorative practices as ways to form trusting relationships, build community, and manage conflict that can be implemented in any venue.

Feb 25, 2020 - Interfaith Restorative Practices Coalition participated in Interfaith Conference's Annual Cabinet Retreat by introducing them to restorative practice method.  President of Interfaith Restorative Practice, Betsy Gonwa invited students from Alliance School to be circle keepers for the small group break-out sessions. The theme was beoming an interfaith neighborhood.                                                                                

Faith-Site Safety

March 9, 2020 - Houses of Worship Safety and Security Conference in Green Bay, WI.  Held at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Faith Leaders, former and current law enforcement and community participated. Scott Ryan and Jason Weber at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.                                                                                    

Interfaith Earth Network

May 21, 2020 – Our Spiritual Ties to the Earth (All Saints Episcopal Cathedral, Milwaukee): This event was originally planned to be in person at All Saints Episcopal Cathedral; however, due to COVID-19, we adapted our program to an online format.  This allowed us to extend our programming beyond reaching only one congregation.  The presentation included a Native American meditation, acknowledging how the four cardinal directions connect us to the planet and therefore the environment.  We then read brief passages from sacred texts and religious leaders from multiple faith traditions before engaging the participants with questions and discussion prompts on how to apply these teachings to their own environmental practices.

July 16, 2020 – Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change: Stephen and several members of the IEN Steering Committee attended and made public statements during this hearing.  Stephen spoke about the need for state financial incentives for congregations to upgrade to solar and permeable pavements.

July 23, 2020 – REPair Divides: As part of our collaborative work with partnering organizations of the Coalition On the Lead Emergency (COLE), IEN participated in the promote of education rap videos related to reducing lead in the drinking water in Milwaukee.  The artists were then interviewed during this online public event.

August 3, 2020 – Coal Costs Us: In partnership with the Sierra Club, IEN solicited chalk drawings to be posted online with information about the dangers of coal as an energy source.  We also encouraged participants to write their government officials in order to solicit policy changes related to energy consumption.

October 17 & 24, 2020 – Lead Exposure Prevention Education (Training of Trainers): This was our biggest undertaking of the year.  Beginning in the spring, we began meeting with members of COLE’s Education Committee to determine the content of our training sessions and how to offer these sessions online rather than face-to-face.  Throughout the summer we began putting together the material and contacting congregations affiliated with Ascension’s Blanket of Love program (formerly the Strong Baby Sanctuaries program).  In October, we completed our first training-of-trainers cohort, with 12 mothers from Milwaukee’s north side congregations.  These congregational leaders are now charged with doing their own educational outreach, reporting back to us for future support through additional information and filter distribution.

Outreach into the Workplace

Aug 26, 2020 - As part of our collaboration with Rockwell Automation and its Faith Friendly and Allies interfaith employee resource group, we helped arrange for Dr. Gurcharan SIngh Grewal to present a lunchtime presentation on Sikhism for 50 or more employees. Religious Groups for Faith Friendly & Allies have included Christian, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. Employee Resource Groups at Rockwell Automation provide a global network of multicultural, multi-generational, employees that are committed to the company’s business goals, along with the needs of its memberships.


2021 Events and Activities


Ongoing Reports:

Founded in 1970, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee is a 50-year-old nonprofit organization through which the regional leaders and adherents of 22 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

We also work closely with several nonmember faiths.

As the United States has become increasingly religiously diverse, we have been at the forefront of efforts to counter misunderstanding, fear, anxiety and hate while fostering interfaith, intercultural, and interracial understanding, tolerance and friendships across county and city-suburban lines. 

Our various activities and programs include:

  • Committee for Interfaith Understanding that builds a better society amid growing diversity by conducting educational programs and bringing people together from a wide array of faith traditions to counter hate, fear, anxiety and bias by fostering understanding, tolerance and friendship.
  • An Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue Program that brings people of different faiths, philosophies, races and cultures together in private homes or intimate institutional settings for a vegetarian meal and a moderated dialogue about their lived experience of faith/philosophy. Our appreciative listening process evokes deep sharing. People can come to just one dinner, or more, as guests, hosts or trained moderators. 
  • An Interfaith Earth Network of Southeastern Wisconsin (IEN) whose mission is to inspire and support people of all faiths and faith communities to care for Earth based on their sacred teachings. Through education advocacy, actions and networking, IEN is a catalyst for congregations and people of faith to live, work and worship in environmentally sustainable ways.
  • An annual Tuesdays-in-March Luncheon Lecture Series organized by our Peace & International Issues Committee that addresses compelling local, regional and international issues. .
  • An Interfaith Restorative Practices Coalition that we convene and which provides a forum for sharing and collaboration by representatives of eight agencies and institutions that use principle-driven restorative practices to heal individuals and communities affected by crimes and other harmful acts. They also help congregations work through difficult internal issues. 
  • Co-sponsorship of a biennial People of Faith United for Justice advocacy day in Madison with the Wisconsin Council of Churches and other organizations that draws up to 1,000 people from across the state to focus on issues related to the proposed Wisconsin state budget and to meet with legislators.
  • Representatives on 9 area boards and commissions
  • And more.....The timeline below provides a great summary:      


Events and Activities in 2021                                 
Interfaith Advocacy

December 1, 2021 - The Interfaith Conference is honored to join the conversation with The Interfaith Center of New York on the role of our faith communities and our theologies to respond to gun violence at the Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer retreat for social justice. Pardeep S. Kaleka, Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, and Co-founder of Serve2Unite was included as a guest presenter.

Nov 22, 2021 - Interfaith Prayer Vigil Planned Following Holiday Parade Tragedy in Waukesha, WI. An interfaith prayer vigil following Sunday’s tragedy during the annual Waukesha Christmas Parade wsa be held at 5 pm Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, at Cutler Park in Waukesha.  Speakers included Mayor Shawn Reilly, Police Chief Dan Thompson, Fire Chief Steve Howard, a representative of the Waukesha School District, and religious leaders from Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist, and other traditions. Grief counselors and chaplains will be present. A blood drive is tentatively planned.

The vigil event was hosted by the Association of Waukesha Congregations with participation by the Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network (BEGIN), and the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.

Nov 9, 2021 - Faith leaders of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee will participate in the virtual Kristallnacht Commemoration on Tuesday, November 9th at 10am on the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC) facebook page. On November 9th, 1938, in an incident known as “Kristallnacht” or “Night of Broken Glass,” Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jews. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Prior to Kristallnacht, these Nazi policies had been primarily nonviolent. After Kristallnacht, conditions for German Jews grew increasingly worse. During World War II (1939-45), Hitler and the Nazis carried out the systematic murder of some 6 million European Jews in what came to be known as the Holocaust.

Interfaith Conference in partnership with the Coalition for Jewish Learning and Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Milwaukee Turners, and Ovation Jewish Home in this annual rememberance of the unimaginable and tragic historical event.

October 18-20, 2021 - Eradicate Hate Global Summit. Three years after the attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue, communities from Pittsburgh and abroad came together to host the first, Eradicate Hate Global Summit, that took place October 18-20 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pardeep Singh Kaleka, executive director of the Interfaith Conference, was there to support the team working in all areas of extremism prevention.  Those who stepped up to help in the aftermath of the shooting - Jeffery Meyers, Rabbi and Cantor at Tree of Life Synagogue, Wasi Mohamed, Pittsburgh Foundation, and Patrice O'Neill from "Not In Our Town," continue to inspire and define courage. Eradicate Hate Summit website
Eradicate Hate Global Summit 2021 on Facebook.

October 6, 2021 - Interfaith Conference executrive director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka  joined Pastor Alexis Twito, brother Alhaj Hassiem Abdullah Babatu, sister Nancy Cogan Hinterthuer for a wonderful interfaith conversation at Trinity Lutheran Church in Cedarburg. Sister Alexis Twito, the staff and students at Trinity Lutheran Church invited the interfaith community to educate them on the teachings of Islam.

August 24, 2021 -  The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee and our diverse faith partners remain concerned with the situation in Afghanistan and the increased violence directed towards the Afghan people. There is within our shared beliefs a tremendous spiritual and moral urgency to continue to monitor this ongoing crisis closely and remain steadfast in our religious commitment to provide sanctuary and refuge, especially to those escaping conflict, war, and persecution. Read full IFCGM statement on Afghanistan 

July 1, 2021 - In this Race Bridge conversation, "Safe Spaces. Shared Identity or Segregation?" Interfaith Conference executive director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka joined panelists from FUEL MilwaukeeRace and FaithDiverse DiningHispanic Professionals of Greater MilwaukeeMilwaukee Film88Nine Radio Milwaukee. to explore the need, value, and collective benefit of safe spaces for diverse populations. Experts and explored many of the arguments for and against these spaces – helping you better form your own position and understand how others see it. Watch webinar on Facebook 

April 21, 2021 - Interfaith Vigil at 7pm, the Gurduara in Brookfield held a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the victims of the Indianapolis shooting and to convey heartfelt condolences for their loved ones.
While every shooting is tragic, the shooting at the FedEx facility hit close to the heart of American Sikhs.  A prayer for: Matthew R. Alexander, 32;  Samaria Blackwell, 19;  Amarjeet Johal, 66;  Jaswinder Kaur, 50;  Jaswinder Singh, 68;  Amarjit Sekhon, 48;  Karli Smith, 19;  and John Weisert, 74. In attendance at the vigil:  Oak Creek Sikh Temple President, Sukhwinder Singh Nagra, Brookfield Sikh Temple President Dr. Dilip Singh, Brookfield Sikh Temple, Anup Singh, Sikh Interfaith Cabinet, Dr. Swaranjit Singh Arora, Hindu Temple of Wisconsin Cabinet, Sarvesh Geddam, ELCA, Interfaith Executive, Bishop Paul Erickson, Interfaith Chair, Episcopal Diocese, Rev. David Simmons, Church of Latter-day Saints, Interfaith Cabinet, President Ken Elbert, AAPI Coalition of WI, Alexa Alforo, AAPI Coalition of WI, May yer Thao, ISM Brookfield, Imam Noman Hussain, BEGIN Interfaith, Pr. Kris Androsky, Interfaith Conference, Pardeep Kaleka

March 30, 2021 - A Call to Action. Over the past 2 weeks, the AAPI Coalition has been calling for the increased attention to targeted anti-Asian violence. The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee and our faith leaders are honored to work alongside the AAPI community to call for policy and legislative actions that build safe, inclusive, and loving communities. We are encouraged by the statewide and national call to action against rising hate. News coverage of Stop Asian Hate Rally

March 30, 2021 - Nonviolence: An Interfaith Conversation. Grateful to our friends at St. Norbert College and the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. Panelist included Interfaith Conference Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka. Presentations from three advocates of nonviolence, each describing the contribution of faith traditions to their perspectives. Included David Mueller, former resident of The Catholic Worker and co-founder of the Dorothy Day Canonization Network, and Jim Handley, certified Kingian nonviolence trainer and Senior Lecturer in Peace Studies at UW Stout.

March 26, 2021 - National Day of Action and Healing virtual zoom event at 5:30- 6:30 by the AAPI Coalition.  Participants included Interfaith Conference Executive Director,  and co-chair of the APPI Coalition, Pardeep Singh Kaleka.

March 25, 2021 - Until the Flood/Voices of Gun Violence adult and youth virtual panel discussions surrounding gun violence.  Panelists share their stories of pain and resilience around gun violence. Voices of Gun Violence is a living archive of stories of gun violence that seeks to share stories of pain and resilience to promote healing, understanding and community action. The program is a collaboration with UW-Milwaukee, Mothers Against Gun Violence and Carroll University. The Milwaukee Rep created two virtual panel discussions via Facebook Live and YouTube Live to amplify participant stories from Voices of Gun Violence and Mothers Against Gun Violence in conjunction with the play “Until the Flood.” On March 25 at 7pm CT, which will include a discussion with panelists Keyon Jackson-Malone, Interfaith Conference's Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Jasmine M. Moore, Kristina Paris and Colette Shumpert, moderated by Debra Gillispie.

Tune in for our first event on March 25 at 7pm CT, which will include a discussion with panelists Keyon Jackson-Malone, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Jasmine M. Moore, Kristina Paris and Colette Shumpert, moderated by Debra Gillispie.

March 18, 2021 - Thursday at 5pm at Milwaukee’s City Hall, members of the Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition gathered with leaders from the Hmong American’s Women’s Association, Milwaukee Chinese Cultural Center, United Lao Educational Development, Janette Braverman, President of Ozaukee County NAACP, Earnell Lucas, Milwaukee County Sheriff, Reggie Moore from the Office of Violence Prevention, Angelito Tenorio, Alderman of West Allis, singer Caroline Gasao, Francesca Hong, State Rep. of District 7, Darryl Morin, president of Forward Latino, and faith leaders from Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Rev. David Simmons, Bishop Paul Erickson (ELCA), Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, Rev. Reirin Gumbel, Rabbi Moishe Steigmann, Imam Noman Hussain, and many more to denounce and condemn the race and gender driven shootings in Atlanta, GA on Tuesday where 8 lives were lost, 6 of which were Asian women. The AAPI Coalition formed last April because of the increasing attacks and hate fueled incidents toward the Asian American community nationwide since the start of the pandemic. 3800 have been reported but there are many more that are not reported.

Jan 7, 2021 - Interfaith Conference issues a statement condeming the assault on the nation's capital and calling for a peaceful trasition of power from the previous administration to the next one.  Also calling upon the leadership of our country to speak in clear terms for the cessation of violence and the honoring of our Constitutional process.
Read full statement

Jan 7, 2021 - Comments from our Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee’s Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka and Archbishop Jerome Listecki, cabinet member of IFCGM.
Read and Watch Interview on Fox News


Outreach, Presentations & Representation

December 9, 2021 - Annual Interfaith virtual Celebration presented in the evening of December 9th at 5:30 pm via ZOOM. Details about this year's featured speakers found here: https://interfaithconference.org/51st-annual-virtual...

The theme, "For Such a Time as This," (book title, courtesy of our special guest, Rev. Sharon Risher), was motivated by the staggering rise of hate crimes in the US.

The FBI 2020 Hate Crime Statistics report, established in 1990, collects data on crimes that are evident of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. The report found there were 7,759 hate crime incidents reported last year which is just shy of the 7,783 reported in 2008, President Barack Obama’s election. According to the most recent FBI data, Anti-Jewish, Anti-Black, and Anti-Muslim and Anti-Sikh hate crimes are all at much higher levels than the US national Average. Nearly 62% of the hate crimes reported in 2020 were incidents targeting racially and ethnically underrepresented groups.

Of those crimes, anti-Black racism accounted for the most hate-based crimes. The report also shows a significant percentage of religion-motivated offenses. Last year, there were 1,244 victims of anti-religious hate crimes, with more than 60 percent of the offenders being motivated by anti-Jewish bias. Hate crimes against Muslim Americans are also at an all-time high nearly 20 years after 9/11. The past year, Muslim Americans data reports showing sharp declines in satisfaction with the country due to the recent political and national discourse. Also, according to an analysis of population size, Sikh Americans are the most disproportionately targeted group at a rate of four times the national average.

Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee’s Pardeep Singh Kaleka moderated an intimate conversation with Rev. Sharon Risher, Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, Jenan Mohajir, Interfaith & Muslim Rights Advocate, to highlight our interfaith commitment to respond to the growing tension that diverse religious, racial, and ethnic communities continue to face in the US.

Opening music was performed by members of the Brookfield Congregation of Church of Jesus CHrist of Latter-day Saints, Kate Mitchell on viola and Gretchen Seamons on piano.  Opening Prayer by Rev. Reirin Gumbel.

November 23, 2021 - Wisconsin Council of Churches and Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee presented the second webinar focused on a deeper look at Afghanistan on November 23rd at 2:00pm to help all to properly welcome refugees to Wisconsin. Hoping to create a cultural competency for our members to better understand Afghan religion, history and the stress and trauma related to people who have to leave their country under duress.

The hour-long webinar was presented with our guest speaker, Janan Najeeb, who is working on the front lines of this endeavor, will give us all the information we need to understand the complex needs of our new neighbors. Janan has made several visits to Fort McCoy, making sure that Afghanis were receiving culturally appropriate supplies, and continues to work with her team at Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition and Hanan Refugee Relief Group, to keep those supplies coming. There will be much to learn about this ongoing mission.  The program was moderated by Interfaith Conference program director, Cherrie Hanson and Wisconsin Council of Churches, curator of community outreach, Breanna Illene.

November 21, 2021 - Congratulations to Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Church on 50 years and Angels of Hope, M.C.C. for 35 years of loving and inclusive ministries. Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee’s Pardeep Singh Kaleka, spoke alongside Rev. Tory Topjian and Rev. Kerri Parker, Wisconsin Council of Churchesand enjoyed the amazing message of embracing boldness by Rev. Dr. Roland Stringfellow. 

Nove 19, 2021 - At City Of Light Church, on Friday Nov. 19th, Pastor Brian MckeeMentor Greater MilwaukeeLaNelle Ramey, Cory Cifax and Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee’s Pardeep Singh Kaleka for the 5th Annual Multiethnic Family Dinner and Discussion.

Nov, 18, 2021 - Thursday, November 18th from 6:00-7:30 pm, for an inperson dialogue. The third in a four part series of Interfaith Dialogues at sponsor, Marquette University. The panel included, Rhonda Hill, founder of Race and Faith, Janan Najeeb, founder and president of Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, Rabbi Michal Woll from Congregation Shir Hadash, Kamal Shah, President, Jain Temple of Wisconsin, Dr. Margaret Noodin, Associate Dean, Humanities University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, and Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Executive Director, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee brings together leaders and activists from American Indian, Christian, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, and Sikh communities to learn from our shared social struggles as well as from the ways in which our traditions of faith can contribute to healing in the Milwaukee community.

October 26, 2021 - Introduction to Islam webinar. A partnership with Wisconsin Council of Churches on the first of several webinars to prepare to welcome Afghanistan refugees to Wisconsin. Othman Atta, an Islamic educator, has served on the board of Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, and joined Rev. Breanna Illéné from Wisconsin Council of Churches and Cherrie Hanson, program director from Interfaith Conference for a Q &A style conversation. The next two webinars will focus on the history of Afghanistan and understanding the hardships of refugees.

September 9, 2021 - In partnership with the Roberto Hernandez Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Interfaith Conference Center of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Film curated a dialogue about intersecting social identities within underrepresented communities during its, Cultures and Communities Film Festival. The virtual panel discussion explored topics such as the significance of belonging (social group membership), the fluidity of multilayered individuality, and the impact of cultural, racial and religious identity on intergroup relations. Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee’s executive director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka and program director, Cherrie Hanson (moderator) joined Alberto Maldonado, director of the Roberto Hernandez Center at UWMilwaukee and Leana Nakielski, director of strategic partnerships at American Family Insurance for a revealing and educational conversation. https://www.facebook.com/MilwaukeeFilm/

September 8, 2021 - Nearly two centuries after his brief life and brutal death were entered into public record as the only recorded lynching in Milwaukee history, George Marshall Clark’s unmarked grave was memorialized with a granite headstone during a special ceremony at Forest Home Cemetery on September 8. The event marked the the 160th anniversary of his murder in 1861. City and cemetery records placed Clark’s remains at Forest Home. Local artist and activist Tyrone MackLee Randle Jr. identified the exact location of Clark’s unmarked grave in consultation with Forest Home staff, bringing Clark’s story to wider attention following racial-justice protests in the summer of 2020. 

“George Marshall Clark died an innocent young man when his safety and dignity as a Black man were utterly denied him,” said Sara Tomilin, Forest Home Cemetery Assistant Executive Director. “As Milwaukeeans, we owe it to all young people in our community, and to the memory of Mr. Clark, to properly acknowledge this lynching. We cannot risk forgetting Clark’s life or death. We’re grateful to America’s Black Holocaust Museum and to Mr. Randle for joining us to pay Mr. Clark proper tribute and to share his story.”

Forest Home Cemetery was established in 1850 as a cemetery for the city of Milwaukee by St Paul’s Episcopal Church. It was managed by the church until 2012, when it became an independent nonprofit. But for 171 years, members of the congregation have remained on its board of directors. Over that time, the cemetery expanded to just under 200 acres and became the final resting place for 26 mayors, more than 1,000 Civil War veterans, and countless prominent people who left their mark on Milwaukee.

Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa, Milwaukee Independent’s Senior Columnist Reggie Jackson, Marquette University’s Dr. Robert Smith, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Executive Director for the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley spoke at the dedication ceremony.

August 5, 2021 - "The Role of Interfaith Dialogue in Strengthening Social Justice Movements" On August 5th, at 6pm at Marquette University a panel conversation with authors of, "Interfaith Engagement in Milwaukee", Dr. Irfan Omar and Kaitlyn Daly. The panel will also include Pardeep Singh Kaleka, current executive director of Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Janan Najeeb, president of Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition, and Rhonda Hill, founder of Race and Faith. Moderated by Dr. Andrew Kim, director of Center for the Advancement of the Humanities dicussed the role of interfaith dialogue in strengthening social justice movements. The event was live streamed and inperson. Humanities experts, religious leaders, and community members highlighted the transformative teachings and practices within Islam and Christianity while deepening the community’s understanding of how to examine and use faith and knowledge to promote the common good.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wtjGAxGCRk 

July 10, 2021 - "Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration" A special zoom event with Senator Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock. The goals of this event were to recruit new faith communities to the work of ending mass incarceration, share ways that faith leaders can speak to its members about ending mass incarcerations and set in motion an effort to build and strengthen the "spider web" of support for those who are and want to be engaged in this work. Pastor Walter Lanier gave the Opening Prayer and Pardeep Singh Kaleka, executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee introduced the topic. Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes introduced Senator, Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock. Rev. Katie Givens-Kime moderated a panel of Sylvester Jackson (Expo), Rev Willie Brisco (Wisdom), Lisa Jones (MICAH) and Rev. David Simmons (Interfaith Conference of Milwaukee) who reflected on the importance of faith values, explained to how we can communicate to members about this work, and provided and overview as to who is incarcerated in Wisconsin. Breakout groups were led by Rev. Jack Murtaugh, Janan Najeeb, Fr. Walter Lanier and Rev. Joseph Ellwanger. 

June 20, 2021 - World Refugee Day at Lynden Sculpture Garden was a combination of small in-person gatherings and live virtual Facebook events. The in-person kickoff began at 10 am on June 20th, in the garden with a land acknowledgement by Margaret Noodin, and a series of interfaith prayers. At 2 pm, Lynden Sculpture Garden broadcasted the morning’s welcome prayer service on Facebook: Lynden Garden Facebook pageLynden’s community engagement specialist, Kim Khaira and executive director Polly Morris, and their steering committee at HOME, collaborated with Interfaith Conference's, Committee for Interfaith Understanding to select interfaith prayer givers who work directly with refugees or who were refugees themselves. Janan Najeeb (CIU chair), Cherrie Hanson (IFCGM program director), Laura Hancock (director of Social Justice and Outreach at the Family of Four Eastside/Downtown Parishes and CIU) and Dean Daniels (Archdiocese of Milwaukee) partnered with the team at HOME this year. HOME was the theme of the Refugee Steering Committee's work with refugee community leaders, community members, Call & Response artists, and allies. Interfaith Prayer Givers included: 
Sister Alice Thepouthay - St Michael's Catholic Church
Sarvesh Geddam - Hindu Temple of Wisconsin
Barbara Graham - Catholic Charities
Dr. Zulfiquar Shah - Islamic Society of Milwaukee
Bishop Jeffrey Haines - Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Fessahaye Mebrahtu - Black Catholic and Ethnic Ministries, Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Stanley Cung - Emmanuel Chin Baptist Church, Milwaukee
Arthur Edumakono Zetho - African Ministry of the United Methodist Church
Pastor Dieumerci Matende - Rehoboth Evangelical Ministries
Hasina Begum Ashraf - Mia Rohingya Muslim
Ellen Parmelee - Baha’is of Southeastern Wisconsin
Rabbi David Cohen - Congregation Sinai
Ellie Motevaze - MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism

June 19, 2021 - Milwaukee's Juneteenth Day Parade. Milwaukee is home to one of the longest held Juneteenth Day celebrations in the United States, and June 19, 2021 marked the 50th anniversary of the local commemoration. Juneteenth officially became the 12th national holiday on June 17, after President Joe Biden signed a bill to recognize the day that has commemorated the end of chattel slavery. Milwaukee’s parade and festivities have been organized by Northcott Neighborhood House for the past half century. With the expansion of vaccinations and lifting of health restrictions, the event was once again held in-person this year. The COVID-19 pandemic canceled celebrations in 2020, but the 2019 event saw 45,000 attend. The event kicked off with a parade from 14th Street and Atkinson Avenue, and traveled down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to Locust Street. Special activities then continued throughout the day, after the opening ceremony where State, County, and City leaders spoke to reflect on the celebration’s meaning.

May 20, 2021 - Interfaith Conference's executive director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, invited by Milwaukee's Equal Rights Commission to speak on the virtual panel examining the notable surge of hate, discrimination, and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Joining Equal Rights Commission chair, Tony Snell, was Mayhoua Moua, Jessica Boling, WIlliam Crowley, Ron Kuramoto, Paul Formolo, Odalo Ohiku, Maysee Herr, Nathan Guequirre, Martha Collins, and Jennifer Bennet.

May 16, 2021 - Living Together in Peace roundtable discussion sponsored by Interfaith Conference memeber, MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism.  Cherrie Hanson, Interfaith Conference program director, was invited to join the virtual panel conversation and respond to questions around culture, perception, tolerance, understanding and whether living together in peace is truly attainable.  She was joined by Tony Snell Rodriguez, chair of the Equal Rights Commision, Christopher Jeske, associate director Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, Nooshin Nookooei, Fariba Farahbakhsh, and moderator Ellie Motevaze from MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism.

May 7, 2021 - The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee hosted an informational presentation and an interfaith prayer service from diverse faith and community leaders in support of the people of India, South-East territories, Brazil and the world who are suffering the dramatic spike in cases of Covid-19. Interfaith Informational and Prayer Service in Support of Growing Covid Crisis in India and Southeast Asia. A virtual live Facebook program: https://www.facebook.com/InterfaithConference.org 
Prayer offerings were from, The Rev. David Simmons, Chair of Interfaith Conference, Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, Imam Noman Hussain, Islamic Society of Milwaukee, Mandeep Kaur, Sikh Community, Rev. Reirin Gumbel, Milwaukee Zen Center, Rabbi Noah Chertkoff, Congregation Shalom Milwaukee, Jewish Community, Director Antoinette Mensah, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, World Mission Ministries, Bishop Paul Erickson, Greater Milwaukee Synod-Elca, Kishore Acharya, Hindu Temple Of Wisconsin, Rev. Mary Carlin, Presbytery of Milwaukee, Dick Smith, Regional Baha'i Council of the Southeastern Wisconsin. Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, Pastor Thad Winkle, Bethel-Bethany, United Church of Christ, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Interfaith Conference Executive Director, Ken Elbert, Stake President, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

April 28, 2021 - Rockwell Automation: Faith Friendly Allies Lunch and Learn encore presentation with Mark Denning. "Resilient & Strong: Native Americans Faiths". An ongoing collaboration with Rockwell Automation for their employees to learn about faith diversity over the lunch hour.

April 15, 2021 - Equal Rights Commission's, Lunch and Learn program "Understanding the Muslim Faith", featuring Janan Najeeb and Othman Atta, moderated by Interfaith Conference's Executive Director, Pardeep Kaleka. To view the Lunch and Learn "Understanding the Muslim Faith" program

April 14, 2021 - 12pm CT  "The People vs Hate: Standing Up For Humanity" an event hosted by the Attorney General Karl A. Racine and the National Association of Attorney Generals on the 2021 Presidential Initiative to address the rise of hate. We will discuss legal solutions to prevention and how to better support victims and survivors of targeted violence. Joining the discussion was Susan Bro, Heather Heyer Foundation, Jeffery Meyers, Tree Of Life Synagogue, Jeff Binkley, Maura's Voice, and Rev. William H. Lamar, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and Interfaith Conference Executive Director,  and co-chair of the APPI Coalition, Pardeep Singh Kaleka. We will discuss legal solutions to combat and prevent hate and how to better support victims and survivors of targeted violence in an ongoing campaign on violence. https://www.naag.org/.../the-rise-of-hate-and-its-deadly.../ 

April 8, 2021 - Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee presents, "Interfaith Engagement in Milwaukee: A Brief History of Christian-Muslim Dialogue" with authors Professor Dr. Irfan Omar, Kaitlyn Daly, student researcher, Sundus Jaber, Founder and President of Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, Janan Najeeb. The discussion was moderated by Interfaith Conference's, Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka and Program Director, Cherrie Hanson. Click to watch the "Interfaith Engagement" dialogue on Facebook

March 11, 2021 - "Hidden Bias of Good People" aired on TMJ4 at 8pm. As part of its commitment to public service that inspires hope and change, TMJ4 News will aired a commercial interruption-free special to spark a dialogue around implicit bias and how these mindsets affect our everyday lives in shaping worth, dignity, and lack thereof. Some within our Interfaith family have been able to view parts of this special that will help inform our commitment to addressing religious, racial, ethnic, gender, age, and eco and systems justice going forward. The hour long special, “Hidden Bias of Good People,” was hosted by Bryant T. Marks, Ph.D., founder and chief equity officer of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity. The special was interactive and conversational, with a goal of helping viewers understand the unconscious biases we all carry based on our upbringings and environments. Implicit, or unconscious, bias refers to attitudes and beliefs that occur outside of our conscious awareness and control. Dr. Marks, was joined by Interfaith Conference Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Dr. Kweku Smith and friend Shalina Ali in a panel hosted by Shannon Simms and Steve Shamraz around local issues of bias. 
Watch the entire program, "Hidden Bias of Good People"  

Feb 3, 2021 - Rockwell Automation: Faith Friendly Allies Lunch and Learn, Mini Fair. Lunchtime presentations for Rockwell employees to expand their knowledge of faiths and philosophies that are part of the local and global fabric of society.  Presenters included, Rabbi Moishe Steigmann from Congregation Cnesses Israel, Marin Denning (First Nations), Dick and Colette Smith from Baha'is of Southeastern WI, and Re. Reirin Gumbel from Milwaukee Zen Center.

Feb 1, 2021 - Pardeep Singh Kaleka was one of six Honorees chosed for the first-ever Milwaukee Magazine Unity Award.  The award honors those in our community working tirelessly to bring us all together.  The inaugural Unity Awards virtual event on Feb 25, 7:30 - 9:30am included a panel discussion with the honorees and a keynote speech from featured guest Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu. To read the full article: Unity Awards Article

Jan 17, 2021- On the eve of January 17th, we honored and appreciated the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  This was a Milwaukee/North Shore Family event sponsored by the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Milwaukee, in collaboration with the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, From The Same Dust, United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay, Christ Church (Episcopal), Old Saint Mary's, Congregation Shalom, Our Lady of Divine Providence (Riverwest), Unitarian Church North, Saints Peter and Paul, Three Holy Women Catholic Parish, Saint Eugene Congregation (Fox Point). We celebrated with word, song and video the Faith and Vision of MLK by sharing these universal truths: Oneness of Mankind, Unity, Justice, and Service
39 presenters who gave their time and talent to make this MLK program special: Kathy Wurzer, Baha'is of Southeastern Wisconsin, Brent Arnold, Congregation Shalom, Lucy Norris, Kari Karth, Amira Randolph, United Methodist of Whitefish Bay, Aidan Saeian, Baha'i Faith, Mary McEllistrem, St. Eugene's Congregation, Rev. Christie Melby-Gibbons, Moravian Church, Kate Mitchell, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rabbi Noah Chertkoff, Congregation Shalom, Rabbi Rachel Kaplan Marks, Congregation Shalom, Glenda Battle, Baha'i Faith.Annemarie Adsen, The Religious Society of Friends, The Milwaukee Meeting, Isabella, Derek and Karissa Brown, Gideon and Frankie Thurow, Ben and Rubi Kastenmeier, Unitarian Church North, Father John Baumgardner, Catholic Church, Vernetta Jefferson, United Methodist of Whitefish Bay, Rev. Dr. Lisa Bates-Froiland, Redeemer Lutheran. David Noll, Baha'i Faith, Rev. Tony Larsen, Unitarian Church North, Ken Elbert, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rev. Oswald Bwechwa, Christ Church Episcopal, Rev. Dr. John Walton, Jr., Calvary Baptist Church of Milwaukee, Bill Alhauser, Baha'i Faith, Arya Saeian, Baha'i Faith, Nathaniel Bratchett, Baha'i Faith, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, Sikh Temple of WIsconsin, Rev. Edwin Leidel, Christ Church Episcopal, Sarvesh Geddam, Hindu Temple of Wisconsin, Sarih Leng, Baha'i Faith, Rev. Dr. Matt Hadley, United Methodist of Whitefish Bay, Pastor Janet Hartzell, United Methodist of Whitefish Bay, Leigh Hoftiezer, Unitarian Church North, Miryam Rosensweig, Milwaukee Jewish Federation

Jan 17-20, 2021 Sunday, Jan 17th - Wednesday, Jan 20th  9:30am -10:20am broadcasted live on Facebook and recorded "Praying Through The Presidential Transition:  A Wisconsin Interaith Response to Violence" vigil program.  We gathered in unity desiring a peaceful transition of power. Each day at 9:30 am, speakers of different faith traditions expressed their prayers, readings and reflections during a 50 minute event.  Co-sponsors were Wisconsin Council of Churches, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, MICAH, Wisconsin Voices for Justice, WISDOM and regional affiliates CUSH, ESTHER, MOSES, RIC, SOPHIA, NETWORK and Faith in Public Life. Themes and speakers were:
Sunday, Jan 17th:  "Finding Strength When We Are Fatigued" Barbara Murray - Charging Crow and Delbert Charging Crow (Ocerti Sakowin Tribe, Lakota Tribe), Rev. Michele "Mimi" Maki (Emmaus Ecumenical Catholic Community of Oshkosh),
Fr. Yeprem Kelegian (Armenian Church/Racine Interfaith Coalition), Imam Noman Hussain (Islamic Society of Milwaukee)
Monday, Jan 18th:  "What Needs Protection", Mark Denning (Oneida Tribe), Rev. Reirin Gumbel (Milwaukee Zen Center/Buddhist Peace Fellowship), Rev. Marilyn Miller (MICAH),Rev. Karen Armina (James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation)
Tuesday, Jan 19th:  "Healing, Accountability, and Responsibility", Rev. Jake Czarnik-Neimeyer (Emmaus Ecumenical Catholic Community), Sister Joan Durst (Sinsinawa Dominican), Rev. Walter Lanier (MICAH), Pastor Chuck Flugel (East Central Synod ELCA)
Wednesday, Jan 20th:  "Holding Space for Community", Rabbi Jonathan Biatch (Temple Beth El, Madison), Sarvesh Geddam (Hindu Temple of Wisconsin), Rev. Joseph Jackson Jr. (Friendship Baptist Church, MICAH), Pardeep SIngh Kaleka and Cherrie Hanson (Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee) Watch live on Facebook at Wisconsin Council of Churches or watch post-recorded event @InterfaithConference.orgor @WisconsinCouncilofChurches 

Amazing Faiths Project and Dinner Dialogue Program

April 27, 2021 - Amazing Faiths Earth Circles in collaboration with Interfaith Earth Network and Wisconsin Green Muslims to celebrate Earth Month and honor Water.  Since the Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue has been paused due to the covid pandemic, we wanted to adapt a virtual version, (without the sharing of a meal) dinner, utilizing the core concept of appreciative listening. Cherrie Hanson, Program Director of the Interfaith Conference and the Amazing Faiths Project program,  worked alongside members from the Interfaith Earth Network Steering Committee, Huda Alkaff, Dianne Dagelen, Linda Sheridan and Katie Heinen.  Huda Alkaf is the founder of WI Green Muslims.  Ahmed Quereshi, member of the Interfaith Conference Executive Committee, presented an understanding of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  Nine guests partcipated in the sharing of questions exploring the intersection of faith and water.  


Committee for Interfaith Understanding (CIU)

April 8, 2021 - Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee presents, "Interfaith Engagement in Milwaukee: A Brief History of Christian-Muslim Dialogue" with authors Professor Dr. Irfan Omar, Kaitlyn Daly, student researcher, Sundus Jaber, Founder and President of Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, Janan Najeeb. The discussion will be moderated by Interfaith Conference's, Executive Director, Pardeep Singh Kaleka and Program Director, Cherrie Hanson. Click to watch the "Interfaith Engagement" dialogue on Facebook


Interfaith Earth Network (IEN)


Peace and International Issues Committee  (PIIC)

March 2 “Political Minds: Addressing the Challenges of a Divided Nation,” Philip Chard will discuss conspiracy theories, insurrection, hate speech, misinformation, and white supremacists, and what can we do to bridge this interpersonal chasm, find common ground, heal divisions and not drive ourselves crazy in the process?
Philip Chard recently retired from Empathia, Inc. after 32 years as President and CEO. Empathia is a behavioral services firm providing health, safety and productivity solutions for over 400 organizations across North America. He remains a practicing psychotherapist who, for over 34 years, wrote an award-winning weekly column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel titled "Out of My Mind,” now published in the Shepherd Express. Philip is author of The Healing Earth, which won the Midwest Publishers Award, and Nature’s Ways. Previously, he was Director of Behavioral Science Education at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, where he was an associate professor and received the Outstanding Faculty Award.
Opening Prayer by Reverend Jennifer Nordstrom of First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

March 9 – “Nurturing Hope from Within: Wisdom Teachings and Spiritual Practices,” Rev. Karen Hagen, Pastor of Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee’s Bay View community will join us for a sampling of spiritual practices from around the world. A time to reflect and let the light of hope shine into our everyday living.
Rev. Karen Hagen of Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church in the Bay View area of Milwaukee feels deeply blessed to serve as pastor with the abundantly gracious folk of Tippecanoe Faithing Community (PCUSA). Tippe is home to Living Waters Contemplative Life Center, Divine Intervention Ministry to the Homeless, Tippecanoe just.good.food Gardens/ Food Justice Site PCUSA, and Arts and Science Literacy Camp for Kids. Also, with 30 years of professional development in the healing arts – including certifications in spiritual direction, reiki, reflexology, and body/mind/spirit practices – she is humbled by the opportunity to come alongside individuals and groups companioning them on their journeys to abundant life. She brings experienced care to each person and group with whom she is honored to work.
Opening Prayer by Imam Noman Hussain from the Islamic Society of Milwaukee.

March 16 – “Communities of Color: Finding Hope through Pursuing Justice", Eloisa Gomez, Minister Byron Johnson, and Jessica Boling will discuss some of the challenges that our diverse communities face in greater Milwaukee and how they have channeled their justice work around hope and community.
Eloisa Gomez is the Chair of Comité por el Voto Latino/Latinx Voter Outreach, a committee of the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County to expand voter education and registration on Milwaukee’s South Side. She is the co-author of the book, Somos Latinas: Voices of Wisconsin Latina Activists, (Wisconsin Historical Society Press), a book that summarizes the activism of 25 older Latina activists from Wisconsin. Eloisa has a B.A. from Mt. Mary University and an M.S. in Urban Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 1988, Eloisa served as a Mayoral Assistant for Mayor John Norquist in his first term in office. During this first term, she helped form a multi-racial ad hoc group of women and men to create the Mayor’s Breast Cancer Awareness Task Force which led to a Mobile Van providing free Breast Cancer screening. Over the years, Eloisa has served on various local, state and national advisory and nonprofit boards, including the Latino Historical Society of WI, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development at the local and national level and served on the Cardinal Stritch Advisory Committee for the annual Brother Booker Ashe Community Presentation.
Minister Byron Johnson is a native of the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is a graduate of the American Baptist College of Nashville, Tennessee. He currently serves as Associate Minister of Progressive Baptist Church under senior pastor, Walter J Lanier. Byron’s ministry is centered on bringing God’s love, reconciliation, and grace to all who God has created. Minister Byron is excited to serve! He is a member of the National Urban League Young Professionals and formerly served as a program assistant at the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin.
Jessica Boling is an experienced community organizer. She has solved complex issues and promoted the influence of different communities. She recently helped the Biden campaign win Wisconsin as the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) State Director. Prior to joining the Biden campaign, she was the director of community engagement to the AAPI community for the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee. She is also a founding member of ElevAsian, an AAPI leadership group in Milwaukee and Wisconsin. In 2013, Jessica conducted research on international aid in Cameroon as a Fulbright Fellow. Additionally, she served as the secretary general for a nonprofit organization in South Korea for adoptees returning to Korea.
Opening Prayer by Rev. Dana Kelley, assistant Pastor of The Reviving faith Movement Church.

March 23 – “Moving forward from our own spiritual casteisms with genuine hope and connection,” Pardeep Singh Kaleka and Rhonda Hill, Inspired by the book “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson, will have an open and honest conversation on the role that cultural dynamics have played in their own personal lives and continue to play in America.
Pardeep Singh Kaleka is executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, published author of “The Gifts of Our Wounds,” award-winning columnist with Milwaukee Independent, and clinician specializing in utilizing a trauma-informed approach to treat survivors and perpetrators of assault, abuse and acts of violence. A native of Punjab, India, he grew up in Milwaukee, and served as a Milwaukee police officer and educator in the inner-city of Milwaukee until the shooting in 2012 at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, where a white-power skinhead took the lives of seven parishioners, one of them being his father and temple founder. In the aftermath, called to help the community heal, Pardeep channeled his energy into transformational love. His work today is to encourage stewardship of healthy social and spiritual fabrics that commit to nurturing the village and fostering genuine connections between individuals and their communities so that hate and hate crimes are less likely to happen.
Rhonda Hill has spent over a decade focusing on issues of racism and poverty. She has served as counselor, consultant, coach, and group facilitator. She is an analytical, creative, systems thinker with compassion. Her commitment to raising awareness about racism is seen through her previous work with the Milwaukee County Social Development Commission, the YWCA, the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, and now as founder of Race and Faith, which educates, promotes and facilitates healthy, faith-based conversations on the topic of racism.. Rhonda has a master's degrees in marriage and family therapy and in theological studies.
Opening Prayer by Rabbi Steven Adams, President - Wisconsin Council of Rabbis, Director of Pastoral Care for Ovation Communities: Jewish Home and Care Center, Chai Point

March 30 – “Moving Forward Together with Hope after Incarceration,” Dr. Terri Strodthoff, Jeanne Geraci, and John Serrano join us to talk about the role of hope for those who have been through and may be going through the legal system. 
Jeanne Geraci has served as the Benedict Center's executive director since August, 2011. Founded in 1974, the Benedict Center helps justice-involved women create healthier and safer lives through direct service and advocacy. Jeanne has increased the agency’s capacity to service justice-involved women in Milwaukee through new initiatives including adding co-occurring mental health services to the Women’s Harm Reduction Program; creating a new Women’s Re-entry Program at the Milwaukee County House of Corrections; and partnering with the Milwaukee Police Department and the District Attorney’s office to create a public health centered street-level prostitution diversion program. Since 2011, the Benedict Center’s Sisters Program has grown to one of the largest programs to serve women in the street-based sex trade on the south side as well as the north side of Milwaukee. Prior to the Benedict Center, she served as the Associate Director of Voces de la Frontera. There she played a critical role in moving a fledgling immigrant worker center to an established state and national leader in the immigrant rights movement. She also worked as a family advocate at Mental Health America of Wisconsin, development director of Esperanza Unida and community organizer for the Riverwest YMCA Housing Initiative. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics.
Terri Strodthoff is the Founder and Executive Director of the Alma Center. The Alma Center is a community-based agency in Milwaukee working to heal, transform and evolve the unresolved pain of trauma that fuels the continuation of cycles of violence and abuse in individuals, families and community. Alma Center works primarily with men at-risk or involved in the criminal justice system, with a particular focus on men who have a history of domestic violence. Dr. Strodthoff has more than 25 years in the field of Healing Focused Care.
John Serrano is a Peer Guide and Co-Facilitator at the Alma Center. He works to support the restorative transition of men returning to the community from incarceration and to create peaceful change among men and families in our community. John has courageously and wholeheartedly engaged in his own process of transformation, having first come to the Alma Center as a client. Utilizing his own experiential knowledge of having walked in the same shoes, as well as his deep study of trauma resolution and restorative practice, John has helped many men re-examine and heal from the violence in their own background and stop repeating the same cycle of violence.
Opening Prayer by Rev. Tonen O'Connor, Resident Priest Emerita, Milwaukee Zen Center


2022 Events and Activities 


The Interfaith Conference issued statements and/or its faith leaders participated in rallies against hate and violence:

  1. In response to Antisemitism, including an attack and hostage incident at the Beth El Synagogue in Colleyville, TX, vandalism at a Racine synagogue, and hate-filled leaflets being distributed in Kenosha, Racine, and Oak Creek;
  2. Concerning the unjust invasion of Ukraine by Russia;
  3. About the spate of Anti-Asian violence and slurs arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic and its alleged origins; and
  4. In reaction to continued gun violence, including but not limited to a May 27th rally and statements following the shooting of school children in Uvalde, and continued support for red flag and closing gun show loophole laws, including legislation pending before Congress.

The Interfaith Conference’s educational programs included a four-part Interfaith conversation series, three conversations on preventing gun violence, and programs on faith in prison, unconscious racial bias, peace, how racism distorts the human spirit, and dealing with the pandemic, among others.

The Interfaith Conference continued its partnership with the Wisconsin Council of Churches in arranging to conduct dozens of vaccination clinics and educational events, reaching out to or thousands of persons, mostly in historically medically under-served communities.

The Interfaith Conference’s held an environmental webinar (“Prosperity in a Fossil-free Economy”) and its PIIC Committee’s Tuesdays in March held a series of lectures with under the theme of “Confronting Climate Change with Hope”. The Conference partners with MICAH in the Coalition on Lead Emergency (COLE) campaign.

The Interfaith Conference participates in nonpartisan Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts with Souls to the Polls and/or the League of Women Voters.

The Interfaith Conference through its faith leaders and executive director Pardeep Kaleka play a major role in the 10th Anniversary commemoration of the August 5, 2012, Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek.

Pardeep Kaleka resigns from his position as Executive Director, effective September 2, 2022, to take a position with Not In Our Town, which uses documentary film, media, and organizing to stop hate, address bullying, and build safe, inclusive communities. Not In Our Town is the primary program of The Working Group, an Oakland, California-based nonprofit media production company founded in 1988. Ahmed Quereshi, current Secretary of the Interfaith Conference and a Cabinet member representing the Islamic Society of Milwaukee since 2003, is named interim executive director September 19, 2022.

In returning to in-person Amazing Faith Dinner Dialogues after the Covid pandemic, the Interfaith Conference partners with the Milwaukee Art Museum at a highly successful October 6th event focusing on Faith and Art.

The Interfaith Conference Cabinet begins a reevaluation of its vision and mission with its first in-person retreat since 2019, a project which will continue into 2023.

The Interfaith Conference held its 52nd Annual Luncheon at Marquette University’s Alumni Memorial Union on December 5th, returning to an in-person annual luncheon event for the first-time since 2019, due to the Covid pandemic. In a highly successful and well-received event, more than 225 persons attended, and the Interfaith Conference handed out all four of its major awards for the first-time since 2019: the Sikh Community received the Huebschmann Urban Ministry Award; Jackie Haessly and Dan Di Domizio received the Zeidler Award; Pastor Teresa Howell-Smith received the Rohlfing Award; and Nicole Christian received the Emerging Leader Award.

2023 Events and Activities 


(adopted in 2023)


The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee builds relationships among people of faith to promote greater understanding, dignity, and respect, and to advocate for the inclusion and acceptance of all.


We envision a strong, peaceful, and sustainable community where all are treated with justice, mutual respect, and dignity.



We listen and learn from one another as we build bridges of understanding and support. We stand with one another against hate, racism, and discrimination to promote a just community.


We serve together to strengthen our communities and build relationships across diverse faith traditions and racial, cultural, ethnic, and generational divides.


We promote a sustainable environment that ensures future generations can thrive and enjoy all of God’s creation.



The Interfaith Conference issued statements and/or its faith leaders participated in rallies against hate and violence, including to antisemitism in response to hate-filled leaflets distributed in Wisconsin; asking for increased fair housing protections; rallying on the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine; supporting the adoption of a climate plan for the City of Milwaukee; and in reaction to gun violence in our community, supporting legislation to close gun show loopholes and to support red flag laws.


The Interfaith Conference’s educational programs included its 4 Tuesdays in March program, which carried the theme “Democracy In Peril”; sponsoring programs on white supremacy and Christian Nationalism by Rev. Butler; presenting on what faith leaders can do to prevent gun violence at an emergency gun violence summit; beginning a series of webinars on Going Green in 2024 through use of the Inflation Reduction Act; and presentations on different faith practices to Rockwell and MATC.


The Interfaith Conference continued its partnership with the Wisconsin Council of Churches in arranging to conduct Covid-19 vaccination clinics and educational events. The Conference also collaborated with other partners on issues of health inequity and providing information concerning cancer and cardio care.


The Interfaith Conference reinstituted a continuing Amazing Faith Dinner Dialogue (AFDD) program in July with a dinner hosted on the last Wednesday of every month at a different place of worship or nonprofit location every month. The Conference also is in discussion with Marquette University and UWM to begin AFDD events on college campuses in 2024.


The Interfaith Conference formally announced the hiring of Ahmed Quereshi as its Executive Director. On December 4, 2023, it held its 53rd Annual Luncheon at Marquette University’s Alumni Memorial Union Ballroom, entitled “Setting a Table for Solidarity” which more than 230 persons attended. The Franciscan Peacemakers received the Rev. Herbert Huebschmann Urban Ministry Award; James Santelle received the Frank Zeidler Award; Rabbi Levi & Leah Stein received the Mark Rohlfing Memorial Award; and Nicole Gorelik received the Emerging Leader Award. The keynote speaker was Venice Williams and Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah concluded the event with a prayer for peace.