Save the Date - 1st Annual Festival of Faiths

by Chip Harrod

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WHAT is the Festival of Faiths?   A weeklong festival in June of 2018  to showcase Greater Cincinnati’s religious diversity and vitality,  to celebrate religion’s contributions to our community’s quality of life, and  to model our exemplary interfaith relations and collaboration. 

Including:      A Day of Community Service – interfaith groupings of volunteers will spend the day together performing community service, followed by a discussion of their shared experience.  (There will be optional days and service projects.  This activity should be of special appeal to younger audiences.)

Concluding:  A Day of Celebration – a fun and educational festival, featuring music and culture, purely non-political, within a setting of many and diverse religious group exhibitors; to include opportunities for interfaith prayer/meditation and dialogue.  (A Sunday afternoon from 1:00-5:00 p.m.)

Inaugural theme:   “Compassion through Action”

WHY:     Religion and religious expression contribute to the soul of a community - its values, its norms, its institutional mores, its human relations, its compassion and, ultimately, its progress.  Cincinnati has been blessed with a rich history of religion’s contributions, especially to the advancement of a civil, socially just, and welcoming community.  As a force for good, our faith community should be celebrated and encouraged to continue its commitment to strengthen and unify our city.  Moreover, there’s value in being reminded of Cincinnati’s leading example as a community that appreciates its religious pluralism and inter-religious collaboration.  The last occasion when the entire community lifted up organized religion and our religious heritage in any major way for public recognition was the 1988 Interfaith Celebration of Cincinnati’s Bicentennial.  There has been nothing on this scale since. 

Two neighboring cities have “festivals of faith:” Louisville (23rd year) and Indianapolis (5th year).  From visits to both cities entailing meetings with their respective festival organizers, we’ve learned of these community benefits from hosting a festival:

  • ·      Unites the community;
  • ·      Demonstrates that religious pluralism is good for a community;
  • ·      Builds interfaith understanding and cooperation;
  • ·      Nurtures community through enlightened programs;
  • ·      Stimulates common action to address community needs; and,
  • ·      Connects people to the region’s religious congregations and faith-based organizations.


Religious communities are, without question, the largest and best organized civil institutions in the world today, claiming the allegiance of billions of believers and bridging the divides of race, class and nationality.  They are uniquely equipped to meet the challenges of our time; resolving conflicts, caring for the earth, the sick and needy, and promoting peaceful coexistence among all people.” -  Religions for Peace

Islamic Center to Create Professorship in Islamic Studies at the University of Cincinnati

CINCINNATI - Nov. 28, 2017 - The Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati is donating $1 million to create The Inayat and Ishrat Malik Professorship in Islamic Studies within the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Cincinnati (UC). Funding for this gift came specially and directly from Inayat and Ishrat Malik; Dr. Inayat Malik is a urologist with The Urology Group and a pioneer in the local Muslim and interfaith community...

"I am impressed by the Maliks' desire to lift up UC and the entire community," said UC President Neville G. Pinto. "This professorship will strengthen our relationships in the Muslim community, similar to how our Judaic and Catholic chairs are linked to their respective communities. It also will deepen our academic expertise in related fields including history, philosophy and international relations."  Read More..

Exploring the Intersection of Inclusion, Film and Faith

By Debra Pinger


April Kerley, a world-champion athlete, was born with two arms and one hand. Her left. For a time, she wore a prosthesis on her right, but it felt wooden to her, and not real. As a six year-old celebrating her first communion, she made the sign of the cross with her left hand only to look up to see the priest shaming her for using the wrong hand. Horrified, the now adult marketing professional admits that since that day, she has never felt truly welcome or safe in a Catholic church.

Joe Sherman passionately supported his son’s snowboarding adventures. Adam was one month away from the Olympic trials he was hit by another snowboarder. His severe head injury derailed both his snowboarding career and his bar mitzvah, the Jewish ceremony symbolizing adulthood. He no longer could remember or read Hebrew and his rabbi refused him. Furious, Joe rented a Torah and hall, and gathered family and friends to celebrate his son’s bar mitzvah without a rabbi, and outside the Synagogue.

Lana Olsen regularly brought her friends with developmental disabilities to church where the little group felt parishioners’ discomfort. Undaunted, she and her friends continued to attend and, before long people who had never before brought their children and friends with disabilities, began to do so.

These are three stories of thousands that fuel the passion and challenge the inventiveness of the Interfaith Inclusion Committee of the ReelAbilities Film Festival which is organized by LADD, inc. The group includes: The Rev. Noel Julnes-Dehner, Shilpa Desai, Shabana Ahmed, Bill Kidd, Valarie Walker, Anita Raturi, Kathy Smith, Colleen Gerke, April Kerley, and Caren Theuring. They recognized that disability directly effects 20% of us and cuts across all socio economic groups – it does not discriminate. They looked to faith communities as places where change must be made and as beacons of hope.