Interfaith Amigos is their name and promoting interfaith acceptance is their game; the nationally recognized group will visit Toledo this week.
The University of Toledo’s Center for Religious Understanding will host its annual Jewish Christian Muslim Dialogue in November, but there will be a different format this year as the Interfaith Amigos will be in town.Known for their blend of spiritual wisdom and humor, Imam Jamal Rahman, Pastor Don Mackenzie and Rabbi Ted Falcon started their work together after 9/11. The group travels around the country promoting authentic conversation between faith traditions, sharing why they believe interfaith dialogue is so critically important and how each of their Abrahamic traditions support and inhibit deeper dialogue.
“We are delighted that Toledo is our first stop after presenting at the Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah. We are looking forward to sharing the additional insights gleaned at this historical gathering of faith leaders from around the world,” said the group’s Communication Director Ruth Neuwald Falcon.
Each year for the past 13 years, members of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths on campus and in the community gather to talk about a topic of mutual interest. Normally the faiths take turns on a keynote speaker; this year the Center for Religious Understanding was offered the opportunity to partner with Sylvania United Church of Christ to bring the Interfaith Amigos to Toledo instead.
“One reason to come to this event is to get to hear firsthand and ask questions of a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim who are great speakers and at the same time great leaders in their tradition,” said Dr. Jeanine Diller, director of UT’s Center for Religious Understanding. “Religions that aren’t your own can seem really abstract and odd; it can help a lot to talk with someone from them, and it’s wonderful to talk with someone who knows a lot about them.”
The group will offer several public presentations throughout the weekend:
• Saturday, Nov. 7 — “Promises and Problems of Interfaith Dialogue” at 4 p.m. at the Sylvania United Church of Christ, located at 7240 Erie St., Sylvania. The lecture and question-and-answer session cost $15; students with valid ID get in free.
• Sunday, Nov. 8 —“The Golden Rule and Compassion in Three Faiths” at 8:30 and 10:40 a.m. at the Sylvania United Church of Christ. Join the congregation in a worship service with the Interfaith Amigos and hear them give a shared sermon.
• Sunday, Nov. 8 — “An Informal Conversation With the Interfaith Amigos” at 9:20 a.m. at the Sylvania United Church of Christ.
• Sunday, Nov. 8 — “The Practice of Effective Interfaith Dialogue, an Experiential Workshop” at 2 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel on UT’s Health Science Campus. This event will include a discussion after the lecture portion.
Light refreshments will be available at all events, except the morning services at the Sylvania United Church of Christ.
“It’s hard to imagine a better team to instantiate the dialogue between these traditions that our event is all about, and I know our team is looking forward to learning as much as we can from them about interfaith dialogue while they are with us,” Diller said.
The Interfaith Amigos’ visit is sponsored by the Jewish Christian Muslim Dialogue Committee at The University of Toledo’s Center for Religious Understanding, the Childester Lecture Series at Sylvania United Church of Christ, the Toledo Community Foundation and the Multifaith Council of Northwest Ohio.
For more information on the Interfaith Amigos, contact Neuwald Falcon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the events, visit facebook.com/SylvaniaUCC/events.