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:
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:
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 Milwaukee, Race and Faith, Diverse Dining, Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee, Milwaukee Film, 88Nine 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 Churches and 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 Mckee, Mentor Greater Milwaukee LaNelle 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 page. Lynden’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.org or @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
Interfaith Restorative Practices Coalition