The World Faith Blog

World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

San Francisco Chronicle: URI Celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week 2 February , 2011

As popular uprisings roil the Middle East and North Africa this week, a revolution of a different kind is just beginning to take shape. Tuesday marked the start of the first annual United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, February 1-7. Crowded amidst a dizzying array of UN days, weeks, month, even decades, this designated week stands out as the first global-level acknowledgment of the importance of interfaith cooperation and understanding to world peace and prosperity.

Initiated by King Abdullah II of Jordan, the week is a chance for interfaith advocates, religious and government leaders, and people of all walks of life to celebrate the common ground they share as people of faith and conviction and take a united stand against violence in the name of religion.

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From The Star (UK): Tree Planting Helps Keep the Faith 27 January , 2011

PEOPLE from all different religious backgrounds came together for a symbolic ceremony in a South Yorkshire town – planting trees to show their unity.

The event, organised by the One Town, One Community initiative in Rotherham, was held in Boston Park, where whitebeam, golden rain, walnut, Himalayan birch, Kashmir rowan, medlar and Turkish hazel were planted.

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From The Daily Emerald: Interfaith Prayer Service celebrates diversity during the holidays 6 December , 2010

The board members behind Eugene’s Interfaith Prayer Service view the holiday season as a time for religious tolerance, understanding and dialogue.

Since it was created in 2001, the Interfaith Prayer Service has been bringing various religions together once a month to share their religious beliefs and practices.

“Interfaith is not trying to blend religions,” Interfaith board member Bill Harris said. “We try to share our religions and practices (and) find out the similarities and sincerities towards them.”

The theme for December’s service is “Lights of Peace and Fellowship.”

Harris, who is coordinating the December service, said that the light represents all the various manifestations of God and that peace and fellowship represent the embrace of each other’s differences.

Interfaith promotes tolerance at every monthly service. The nonprofit brings nine to 10 different religious representations to each service, though they try to bring Christian, Muslim and Jewish representatives to every gathering.

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From The Huffington Post: Hanukkah and Interfaith Dialogue: Increasing Our Shared Light

On the first night of Hanukkah this year, I found myself in an unusual place. I was supposed to be at a Jewish communal event hosted by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. But at the last minute I was asked by the Indonesian Ambassador, Dino Patti Djalal, to participate in an interfaith panel which included one of the leading Muslim clerics of his country, Dr. Din Syamsuddin. Dr. Syamsuddin is the president of Muhammadiyah, an organization of 29 million Muslims that sponsors a wide range of social and educational programs in Indonesia and more than a dozen universities. Also on the panel was Rev. Michael Livingston, a Presbyterian and former president of the National Council of Churches who is now heading up their initiative to fight poverty.

The fact is that I only accepted the invitation because of a remarkable speech I heard given by Ambassador Djalal a week earlier as part of an international conference sponsored by the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty (CIFA). The organization was unveiling a new initiative to increase the engagement of faith communities in health and development efforts around the globe.

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From Patch: Muslims, Christians and Jews Gather to Give Thanks 30 November , 2010

Last week, about 200 Muslims, Christians and Jews gathered for the Twenty-Seventh Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service sponsored by a local “interfaith dialogue group,” Peace by Piece. Peace by Piece welcomes those interested in efforts to “bring together the peoples of the Middle East in the spirit of peaceful coexistence.”

Peace by Piece was formed by members of Burke Presbyterian Church, Congregation Adat Reyim and the Institute of Islamic Worship and Turkish Studies to “promote dialogue, joint worship, and friendship among its members.” Staff representatives from St. Mary of Sorrows Catholic Church also participated in the event.

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From CNN’s Belief Blog: My Take: How real interfaith dialogue works 29 November , 2010

I’ve thought for some time that if more Americans had personal contact, even friendships, with their fellow Americans who are Muslims there might be less mistrust and misunderstanding about the role Islam plays in their lives.

The years have convinced me that interfaith dialogue, particularly the one-on-one variety, is a more viable way to break down barriers between people than large-scale efforts.

Now, before we go any further: Yes, within a worldwide population of more than 1 billion Muslims (which include a few million in the United States) there are those who, for a variety of reasons, hate the United States, would do it harm or support such action.

But when the subject comes up, the American Muslims I’ve met – whether they were born here, emigrated from traditionally Muslim nations or converted from other faiths – remark how America, even amid the tensions of recent years, affords them the freedom to live, work, study and raise their children, as their neighbors do, and, importantly, worship in the way they choose, as their neighbors do.

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From The Economist: One nation, with Aunt Susan

AT A time when Americans are worried about their crippling political divisions, it is pleasing to report that two social scientists, Robert Putnam of Harvard University and David Campbell of the University of Notre Dame, have just written a book that examines a powerful source of American unity. Perhaps unexpectedly, the unifying force they focus on is religion.

America’s religiosity has been extensively documented and should surprise no one. It is, Sarah Palin said in her own new book this week, “a prayerful country”. More than eight out of ten Americans say they belong to a religion. More Americans than Iranians (four out of ten) say they attend a religious service nearly once a week or more. What is a surprise—or should be, when you think about it in the way Messrs Putnam and Campbell have—is that religion in America is not more divisive. They argue in “American Grace” (Simon & Schuster) that religion gives Americans a sort of “civic glue, uniting rather than dividing”.

The unifying impact of religion would not be so puzzling in a country where people were pious but where there was only one dominant religion—Catholic Poland, say. Americans, by contrast, hold intense religious beliefs but belong to many different faiths and denominations. That should in theory produce an explosive combination. So why doesn’t it?

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