Save the Date! 1st Annual Cincinnati Festival of Faiths

1st Annual Greater Cincinnati FESTIVAL OF FAITHS

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by Chip Harrod

WHAT:    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.

HOW TO:   Cincinnati’s Bridges of Faith Trialogue will take the administrative lead in organizing the Cincinnati Festival of Faiths.  It will provide the project management, assemble an inclusive Festival Steering Committee, handle the logistics, arrangements and promotions, adopt participation guidelines, and seek the required resources for delivering the companion events of the festival and day of service.  Volunteers will be necessary to delivering a successful event.

The Bridges of Faith Trialogue is a 501c3 nonprofit, which has this mission:  

The Bridges of Faith Trialogue is a non-partisan civic organization founded upon interfaith dialogue that works to develop educational and community service programming to foster greater understanding, respect, compassion, inclusion and engagement for all people and faith communities in Cincinnati and beyond. 

BUDGET:  The budget for a Cincinnati Festival of Faiths is roughly estimated at $27,000.  We expect to receive both in-kind and cash donations.  Group sponsorships will be available, and there will be a participation fee for exhibitors.

WHERE:   For the Day of Celebration we have chosen a spacious indoor venue, reserving the Cintas Center of Xavier University; free parking.

WHEN:   The Greater Cincinnati Festival of Faiths will be held on June 24, 2018.  

SPECIAL FEATURES AND POTENTIAL COLLATERAL ACTIVITIES:  interfaith prayer service; guest speakers; opportunity for dialogue; fun activities, e.g., Sikh turban-tying, picture-taking with a life-size cardboard cutout of Pope Francis; diverse music and entertainment; youth component.  We are contemplating a range of speakers and educational programs at diverse venues the week leading up to the June 24th Day of Celebration.

EARLY SUPPORTERS OF THIS IDEA:  Entities that have expressed interest in this preliminary concept include the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue of Xavier University, Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Diocese of Southern Ohio, Christ Church Cathedral Cincinnati, K. K. Bene Israel/Rockdale Temple, American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Cincinnati Sikh community, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)-Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, AMOS Project, Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati (MARCC), Kids4Peace, The Holocaust and Humanity Center.

Festival Steering Committee (to date):  Umama Alam, James Buchanan Ph.D., Jackie Congedo, Chip Harrod, Rabbi Meredith Kahan, Sandy Kaltman (Co-Chair), Justin Kirschner, Inayat Malik M.D., Maria Munir (Co-Chair), Jan and Bruce Seidel, Jaipal Singh, Tony Stieritz, Sarah Weiss, Rev. Canon Manoj Zacharia (Co-Chair), Rabbi Gary Zola.

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 University of Cincinnati

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

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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. 

The Malik Professorship marks a new era for UC by rounding out its complement of expertise in Abrahamic religions; Judaic and Catholic studies chairs already exist. The new position will allow the university to boost classes and research related to Islamic studies that already include a strong focus on the Middle East and Arabic language and culture.

"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." 


The Maliks, the Islamic Center and UC have a long history together. Dr. Malik came to Cincinnati in 1967 to specialize in urology at the UC Medical Center and subsequently became a leader in the Muslim community. He was on the clinical faculty of the UC College of Medicine for more than 20 years and in private practice for most of his career.

The Islamic Center has its roots in Clifton, dating back more than 50 years. Growth in the local Muslim community resulted in the creation of the present-day Islamic Center. Today, it sits on an 18-acre campus in West Chester, and is celebrated for its strong interfaith relationships, cross-cultural understanding and community service. Dr. Malik was instrumental in its creation, serving as the first board chair for 18 years.

"We have a significant Muslim population in the area now, many of them affiliated with UC Medical Center," Dr. Malik said. "Ishrat and I felt that we needed to make this resource available to UC, not just for the sake of the Muslim community but for the larger community so they have an understanding of the history of Muslim civilizations and contributions." 

As a modern institution, UC has many partnerships in the community; collaboration with institutions like the Islamic Center enhance the quality of education for students and faculty. Shakila Ahmad, a 1982 graduate of UC, is the Islamic Center's board president. She is also a trustee of the University of Cincinnati Foundation. 

"When we realized the need that existed at the university, we felt the Islamic Center had a responsibility to fill the education gaps in regard to Islam and understanding the Muslim-American community," Ahmad said. "The Muslim community has a strong link and commitment to the university and relies on it as an institution with a wealth of knowledge."

"We are very grateful to the Maliks and the Islamic Center for this tremendous gift," said College of Arts & Sciences Dean Ken Petren. "This professorship will expand and deepen teaching and research around Islamic history and culture. Our college already covers a diverse number of related topics, and this will help grow our expertise and add breadth to existing work in world religious traditions."

Dr. Malik is not the only family member with ties to UC. Four out of five of the Malik's five daughters are UC alumnae. 

Having lived more than 50 years in Cincinnati also influenced the Maliks to give this gift to the Islamic Center and, ultimately, UC. 

"I've spent most of my adult life and all of my professional life here, we've raised our children here, we love the city," Dr. Malik said.  "And the faith community has been very open to Muslims and very responsive to our outreach - whether it be the Catholic, Protestant or Jewish communities."

The Maliks see their support of UC, the Islamic Center and other civic work as part of their faith, which teaches that whatever gift you've been given, you share with others. 

Ahmad said she has directly benefited from their example. 

"One of the principles that I have learned is that we have a responsibility to Islam and a responsibility as Americans," she said. "Inayat and Ishrat have lived out that faith and that practice for so many of us to follow. This gift to the university is a perfect example."

Dr. Malik's involvement in the local interfaith community includes cofounding the Bridges of Faith Trialogue, an on-going conversation among Cincinnati civic leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. He serves on several local and national boards and lauded for his work in diversity and inclusion.

 

For more information: 

Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati - Shakila Ahmad, Chair of the Board & President info@cincinnatiislamiccenter.org

The University of Cincinnati Foundation -Julia Mace
Assistant Director, Communications
T: 513-556-1330
C: 513-310-8042
julia.mace@uc.ed

About the University of Cincinnati Foundation
Established in 1975, the University of Cincinnati Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and the private sector fundraising entity for the University of Cincinnati and UC Health. The Foundation supports UC's aspirations through philanthropic collaboration with the colleges, the Academic Health Center, UC Health and other units to maximize private support. The Foundation's advancement efforts promote the development of productive, enduring relationships with alumni, friends, colleagues, students, foundations, corporations and the Greater Cincinnati community. For more information, please visit foundation.uc.edu

Encountering Our Neighbors of Other Faiths

Encountering Our Neighbors of Other Faiths

by Catholic Social Action Office

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'This Fall, St. Susanna (Mason) and St. Francis de Sales (Cincinnati) parishes each engaged in a three-week dialogue series with their Muslim neighbors from the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati and the Clifton mosque. Called "Encountering Our Neighbors of Other Faiths," the Archdiocesan-designed process brought together dozens of Catholics and Muslims to teach each other about their respective faiths. They began by reviewing the Catholic Church's official calls for such encounters and agreeing to groundrules for interfaith dialogue. The groups visited each other's houses of worship and received overviews of each faith's tenets from their respective clergy. In this picture, pastor Fr. Gene Contadino leads members of the Clifton mosque on a tour of the beautiful church of St. Francis de Sales in East Walnut Hills. One participant's reflection seemed to sum up the general evaluation of both groups: “This is so wonderful - how can we get other people to talk to each other like this?” We look forward to many more parishes engaging in such encounters in the months ahead.

“Sometimes Christians and Muslims fear and distrust one another as a result of past misunderstandings and conflict…We have many spiritual resources in common which we must share with one another as we work for a more human world.” - St. John Paul II

_________

In November, hundreds of Catholics and Lutherans gathered at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Centerville to prayerfully commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Bishop Suzanne Dillahunt (ELCA Southern Ohio Synod) and Bishop Joseph Binzer (Archdiocese of Cincinnati) presided over the Common Prayer Service, which was also used by Pope Francis and Lutheran leaders in Lund, Sweden last year. Music was performed by a joint choir from Epiphany and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. Together, we gave thanks for our growing unity, repented for the harm caused, and committed to continuing our work together to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The prayer service capped off an amazing year of activities between the Archdiocese and Synod, involving over a thousand Catholics and Lutherans. The two faith communities have resolved to continue the relationship by jointly addressing the opioid and addiction crisis impacting our families, churches and neighborhoods.'

 

 

Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC) Statement on Loss of Innocent Lives in Manhattan

Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC) Statement on Loss of Innocent Lives in Manhattan

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of New York City today.

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We are devastated by this latest act of mass violence, this time in downtown Manhattan. New Yorkers are as strong as they come and we stand with our fellow Americans today in condemning this grotesque act of violence. Muslims in America stand firmly against any act of terrorism and the loss of innocent life.

While we await additional information on the attacker, it is imperative that media outlets curtail speculation and report responsibly and even-handedly. As Americans, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and we will not stand for violence against innocents, no matter what ideology feeds the attacker.

ICGC Calls for Unity in a Moment of Crisis

There are leaders who will weaken all of us by seeking to divide us. We know better. The events of Las Vegas and Charlottesville illustrate too well that violence is not owned by any one faith or political ideology - that it is a tool that the weak use to make themselves appear strong, and to assert power over a world in which they feel powerless.

We the people - and the leaders who guide us - have important choices to make: we can draw on our values and our strengths or give in to our fears. America has always been strongest when we stand up for our ideals and rally together. Those who would have Americans turn against one another or abandon our principles of free speech, free assembly, and freedom of religion are throwing away our greatest strength. That approach will not succeed, and we look back on the moments in our history when we abandoned our principles in shame, not pride.

What Can We Do in Cincinnati? Know Your Neighbor

Our members look to the Qur'an 49:13, which tells humankind that God has "created you all from a single man and a single woman and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another." The need for active dialogue will not go away anytime soon, and the Know Your Neighbor program, a nationwide coalition of faith- and community-based organizations, social justice campaigners, and civil rights activists, has committed itself to this task. The eighty-two members of the coalition, including the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, based across all fifty United States provide tools, educational programs, interfaith training, dialogue resources, and in-person opportunities to strengthen our social fabric by relating to each other in simple ways.

Exploring the Intersection of Inclusion, Film, and Faith

Exploring the Intersection of Inclusion, Film, and Faith

by Debra Pinger

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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.

They began by asking the questions: What does authentic inclusion look like for each of us as individuals? Is it physical inclusion or does it extend to friendship? If its friendship, how is friendship defined? As sharing a meal? How do we all confront our own discomfort with people who are different from us? And, what is the role of faith in this conversation?

As a first step, the group organized at interfaith breakfast held at the March ReelAbilities Film Festival. Attended by some 150 attendees, it featured opening prayers from Cincinnati’s faith leaders including The Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Catholic Archdiocese, Acharya Kailash Ji, Hindu Temple of Greater Cincinnati, Rabbi Margaret Meyers, President Emeritus of MARCC, Reverend Ennis Tait, Pastor of Church of the Living God, Imam Hossam Musa, Islamic Temple of Greater Cincinnati, and The Reverend Noel Julnes-Dehner, Christ Church Cathedral.

Michigan Supreme Court Judge, Richard Bernstein who was born blind, mesmerized with his story, and Dr. James Buchanan, Director of the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue moderated a very personal discussion with the faith leaders. The event was co-sponsored by Interfaith Cincy.

Boyed by that success, next September, the group will once again inspire with an interfaith breakfast at the newly named and expanded film festival. Named the OTR International Film Festival, the scope now celebrates diversity, disability and difference. It is scheduled for September 26 – 30 in Over-The-Rhine, at SCPA, Music Hall, Shakespeare Theater, Ensemble Theater and Washington Park. Attendance projections for the festival total 50,000.

Through films, music, poetry, dance, the fine arts, and food, the OTRIFF will bring together Cincinnati’s marginalized communities to explore what separates us as well as what unites us in our shared human experience. With these events, the Interfaith Inclusion Committee of OTRIFF is just getting started. If you have an interest exploring the powerful intersection of inclusion, film and faith, please contact Debra Pinger, Managing Director of OTRIFF at dpinger@laddinc.org or 513-487-3939.

OTRIFF is organized by LADD, Inc., a Hamilton County agency  serving nearly 500 adults with developmental disabilities.

Debra Pinger, Managing Director

OTR International Film Festival, Organized by LADD, Inc.

 

 

Youth Find Peace: Mother of Mercy High and Trinity Lutheran join in Catholic-Lutheran Pizza Summit

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Youth Find Peace: Mother of Mercy High and Trinity Lutheran join in Catholic-Lutheran Pizza Summit

 

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and to commemorate the event, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Southern Ohio Synod and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are sponsoring activities to understand the origins of the Reformation, our differences, and our growing unity in Christ.  According to a joint statement by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, Bishop Suzanne Darcy Dillahunt, and Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton, “three things, study, prayer, and service, are important ways that the love of Christ can be shared among us and through us.”

Answering this call to share together in what was billed as a Catholic-Lutheran Pizza Summit, six senior students, religion teacher Robert Bonnici, and intervention specialist Bev Sass from Mother of Mercy High School met Sunday evening, Oct. 22, with six senior high youth and their youth leader at Trinity Lutheran Church in Mt. Healthy in an attempt to transcend our differences and celebrate our shared beliefs with food, fun, discussion, and prayer.   The evening included humorous ice-breakers, discussion of church experiences and grace in our lives, Bible charades, and of course, pizza from LaRosa’s.   Shawn Nichols, Trinity’s Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministry concluded the evening gathering with a tour of Trinity’s beautiful sanctuary and an Ignatian prayer exercise. 

Robert Bonnici

Faith Communities Speak Out And Take Action Against Bigotry

Faith Communities Speak Out and Take action Against Bigotry

Responding to Racism and Events in Charlottesville, Virginia

This week AJC's CEO David Harris published two articles in the Huffington Postaddressed to President Trump (Part IPart II) in response to the events in Charlottesville. Harris states, "For us, we can find no other words to describe what happened on Saturday than domestic terrorism--the premeditated targeting of civilians for political purposes." AJC will continue to press our political leadership to explicitly reject and condemn racism, including white supremacy movements.  Mr. President, for many Americans, finding a path forward that narrows the differences and builds greater cohesion may seem like an impossible task. Yet as long as you are the occupant of the Oval Office, surely it needs to be among your foremost obligations, together with protecting our national security.

 Please sign here to take action to reverse the rise in hate crimes by urging your Senators and Representatives to support the bipartisan Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017.

Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr from the Archdiocese of Cinncinnati responds on August 16, 2017: 

'The bigotry and violence that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia emerged from the same sin of racism which can plague any community in America, including those of our own Archdiocese. And so, as we approach the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, I echo for the faithful of our local Church the response of Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to these horrendous events and the resulting loss of life:

Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country.  

We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love's victory over every form of evil is assured.  At Mass, let us offer a special prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who sought to protect us from the violent ideology displayed yesterday. Let us especially remember those who lost their lives.  Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression.

As Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia observed, "[t]he wave of public anger about white nationalist events in Charlottesville is well warranted." Such public displays of bigotry attack our very core belief about who we are as human beings, creations made in God's image and likeness with infinite dignity. As members of one human family, no one of us can ever claim to be superior to another in God's eyes, let alone our own. 

More needs to be done than to simply hope that such events as Charlottesville do not happen again. I urge all of us to stand firmly against such public displays of hate by being daily mindful of everyone's inherent dignity in our churches, schools, workplaces and families. I challenge us all to oppose harassment of anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, physical ability, orientation, or faith tradition. When we find ourselves bystanders to harassment, we must find the courage to stand up for justice and equality. In doing so, we need to summon the grace to respond civilly and not perpetuate the cycle of violence, no matter how righteous our cause.

On September 9, 2016, the Feast of St. Peter Claver, the U.S. Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati made a commitment to be more proactive in addressing racism and violence through the Peace in Our Communities campaign. In the wake of current events, as we approach the anniversary of this Feast, I recommit our local Archdiocese to addressing this disgrace through prayer, dialogue and tangible action.'

Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC) Responds to Charlottesville Violence with Call to  Know Your Neighbor

(This statement is in solidarity and collaboration with ING (www.ing.org) and fellow affiliate speakers bureaus across the country)

Like all Americans, what ICGC were shocked and horrified to learn of violence and fatalities at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. We offer our deep condolences to the families of those injured and who lost their lives. Heather Heyer, the young woman who died at the hands of the young man that drove his car into a crowd, was a citizen committed to social justice. And the Virginia State Police officers, Berke Bates and Jay Cullen, who perished when their helicopter crashed while observing the rally, proved their dedication as public servants.

When as  leaders and as  American citizens,  we let things get to a point where hundreds of our fellow citizens  boldly and proudly declare that "Jews will not replace us" or "Blood and soil" or "America is for white people", we  are complicit in creating this situation. We must speak out in a powerful voice against racism and xenophobia - but without dehumanizing and demonizing those who are swayed by these attitudes.

Widening Polarization Impedes Rational Discourse

This widening polarization in our country dissolves friendships and family relationships and fractures communities. Perhaps, worst of all, it impedes rational discourse about the problems that afflict our society. And as we witnessed in Charlottesville, when it involves hate groups calling for race supremacy, it can be deadly.

The events in Charlottesville are a call to action for reaching out to fellow citizens, with civility, , especially to those whose views we find abhorrent. We can and do change our minds about our fellow citizens but it takes commitment to both the means and the end. The means is respectful dialogue, which is critical in strong, pluralistic democracies like ours. The end is addressing differences of opinion and debating policy, but that can only happen after establishing a baseline of common humanity.

What Can We Do? Know Your Neighbor

Our members look to the Qur'an 49:13, which tells humankind that God has "made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other". The need for active dialogue won't go away anytime soon, and the Know Your Neighbor program, a nationwide coalition of faith- and community-based organizations, social justice campaigners, and civil rights activists, has committed itself to this task. The eighty-two members of the coalition, including the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, based across all fifty United States provide tools, educational programs, interfaith training, dialogue resources, and in-person opportunities to strengthen our social fabric by relating to each other in simple ways. 

We must remember core American principles of cooperation despite differences, of commitment to the greater good, and of concern for the "other". Some point in our history, we were all the "other" to someone else. We're calling everyone to know your neighbor. We are stronger when we unite around these core American values.

Join us for the next Know Your Neighbor event on Saturday September 9th at 1:00 pm at ICGC RSVP by calling 513-755-3280 or emailing us at info@cincinnatiislamiccenter.org

Freestore Food Bank 5K Hunger Walk

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This Memorial Day the Freestore Foodbank and their 350 partners, shelters and community centers joined together to raise awareness and to fight hunger in the Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana communities.  The Hunger Walk and 5K Run began in 2004 and has raised more than $1,800,000 for Freestore Foodbank.  Through this collaborative effort, over 23 million meals have been provided each year to hungry children and families in 20 counties in the tri-state area.  Every step counts, every penny matters!

Mother of Mercy High Gathers Teens from Four Faiths for Peace Garden

Mother of Mercy High Gathers Teens from Four Faiths for Peace Garden

by Bob Bonnici

This year, the first Sunday afternoon in May marked the first time that teenagers representing four major religions in Cincinnati gathered together to work as one, building a butterfly garden as an example of interfaith cooperation for our common home, the earth.  The youth groups from the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, Mayerson JCC, Trinity Lutheran Church of Mt. Healthy, and students from Mother of Mercy High School joined together at the Imago Nature Center for an afternoon of discussion, service, and fun. 

Although Mother of Mercy High School is entering its final year as one of our city’s educational institutions, it has strived over the years to help our city grow in interfaith relations, especially among our youth.  For several years, Mother of Mercy High has brought students on field trips to the mosque at the Islamic Center, to Seder meals at Mayerson, and to common prayer services at Trinity Lutheran.  As the students began building friendships, Mother of Mercy High School began coordinating service days at Imago to deepen their relationships with a common goal for peace: joining first with Muslim youth from the Islamic Center, then the following year including Jewish youth from Mayerson JCC, and this year the Lutheran youth from Trinity made the May 7th event our largest gathering of faith-filled teens ever! 

In planning for the interfaith service garden event, students from each faith group collaborated on a commemorative t-shirt for everyone with the word “peace” displayed in Arabic, Hebrew, and English centered around a burgeoning leafing tree.

Imago specializes in educating youth about nature so they divided the students into mixed working groups to help everyone get to know one another.  The students worked on the peace garden all afternoon and several joined the Mercy girls in planting a tree for one of their beloved classmates who recently passed away.  After the shovels and wheelbarrows were put away, everyone gathered for some of Scarlato’s delicious cheese pizza for dinner and table discussion.  This year’s theme was how each religion tries to live out the value of “compassion” in our world in light of our school’s name of Mercy.  Dalal, a Mercy freshman, said that she enjoyed these interfaith service experiences “because people there happened to be confused why not only a Muslim was at Mercy, but also why I was representing Mercy that day.”  She goes on to explain that “it is because of the wonderful community Mercy has and about the love that is exerted from everyone, not only the student body, but the staff as well.”

This gathering of youth from all four faiths was made possible by a generous grant from the Brueggeman Center and it is our hope that we can continue to gather for service once again in the fall of Mother of Mercy High’s final year.

Robert J. Bonnici

Teacher, Mother of Mercy High School

Women's Interfaith Group Hosts Peace Festival

Women's Interfaith Group Hosts Peace Festival

The Women's Interfaith Network of Cincinnati Suburbs hosted an Interfaith Peace Festival on April 23rd. The interfaith group welcomed musicians and dancers from area faith congregations and cultural groups.  The program included singers from LDS choir, the Islamic Center, the Jewish community, Sikh devotional singers, Bhangra dance from India, Chinese dancers, Zabava dancers from Europe, Latin American dancers and several more.  The WINCS group is a diverse group of women seeking to promote learning opportunities among different cultures and religious faiths through open discussion, community service and outreach.

WINCS INTERFAITH PRAYER FOR PEACE – Compiled by Judie

Let us gather today in prayer for peace… Oooommmm shanti, shanti, shanti. Creator of the Universe, fill our hearts with peace. Give us that divine spark to make us a channel of your peace.  

For peace in our own homes, it is said that making peace between two people is more precious than prayers and fasting. Ameen

For peace between neighbors, we are told to love our neighbors as thy self.  Amen

For peace in our community, our cities and country, we are told by the prophets to welcome the stranger and to be our brother’s keeper. Shalom.

Let us know peace. For as long as the moon shall rise, for as long as the rivers shall flow, for as long as the sun shall shine, for as long as the grass shall grow, Let us know peace says our Cheyenne Natives.

For peace in our world, it is said that we are like a link, Golden Chain of Love that stretches around the world. Keep our link bright and strong. Namaste.

God adjudges us according to our deeds, not the coat that we wear: that truth is above everything, but higher still is truthful living. Know that we attaineth God when we loveth, and only that victory endures in consequences of which no one is defeated.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Om lokoh samastah sukhino bhavantu.

May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

Good day, As salamu alaykum, Shalom aleikhem, Sat shri akal, Namaste