2020 Events and Activities
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:
- A 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
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 - A 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 Wisconsin, Buddhist Peace Fellowship Milwaukee, St. Paul African-Methodist Episcopal Church , The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, Greater Milwaukee Synod, Hindu Temple of Wisconsin, Hours Against Hate, Islamic Society of Milwaukee, Jewish Community Relations Council - Milwaukee, Wisconsin Council of Churches, Jewish Federation of Madison, MICAH, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Lakeview Moravian Church, Presbytery of Milwaukee, Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin, The United Methodist Church, Milwaukee Friends Meeting, Southeast Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist Congregations, Wisconsin Conference United Church of Christ, Church of Jesus Christ in Southeast Wisconsin, Wisconsin 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. Prayer offerings from members and faith leaders from Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Pardeep Singh Kaleka, UCC Pastor Thad Winkle, Imam Noman Hussain from ISM Brookfield. 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. Not a protest but a Witness - designed especially for those who may not have prior experience standing up for racial equity.
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, 2020- PRI - 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 Wisconsin, Buddhist Peace Fellowship Milwaukee, The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, Greater Milwaukee Synod, Hindu Temple of Wisconsin, Islamic Society of Milwaukee, Jewish Community Relations Council - Milwaukee, Moravian, MTO Shahmaghsoudi, Milwaukee Friends Meeting, Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Southeast Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist Congregations, United Church of Christ, Milwaukee Zen Center, Wisconsin Council of Churches, Unitarian Universalist Church West, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee,@wisconsinumc, Milwaukee Jewish Federation, St. Paul African-Methodist Episcopal Church, Presbytery of Milwaukee, TheChurchOfJesusChristofLatterdaySaints
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 Times, Urban Milwaukee, The 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.
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.