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Universal Peace Federation-Virginia

Advancing Interfaith Relations
Roslyn Center, Richmond VA
April 11, 2016


Creating One Family Under God

Clergy and community leaders from the Greater Richmond Area gathered at the Roslyn Center, Henrico, Richmond, for the Annual Faith & Community Leaders Breakfast to discuss, "How Can Interfaith Collaboration Create a Stronger Community?"

The Interfaith Council of Greater Richmond (ICGR) with its nineteen faith organizations including, Family Federation for World Peace & Unification/Universal Peace Federation-VA sponsored the program which had about 50 participants.

Rabbi Dennis Beck-Berman gave invocation to begin the event. This was followed by welcome remarks from our second-term president, Sabrina Dent.

The dialogue which was rich with inspiration from five mixed groups generated many creative ideas for improving collaboration and effective interfaith outreach to the communities of Greater Richmond.

Three major questions steered the dialogue: 1) How do you define interfaith collaboration? 2) How can interfaith collaboration create a stronger community? And 3), How do you see diverse groups working together?

   

Central points highlighted via the first question were centered on the power of "togetherness". They expressed the heart and spirit of being one while conducting dialogue of devotion, praying together, and in engaging community projects jointly.

How Can Interfaith Collaboration Create A Stronger Community?
Importance of dialogue was again emphasized including relationships building and a reference to Bon Air Trialogue (an active service outreach by Bon Air United Methodist Church). Other points were: sharing what we have in common; celebrating diversity and the uniqueness of each faith tradition. Also, tackling together common problems that we all face, and engaging in volunteerism in order to better serve those in need.

   

How Do You See Diverse Groups Working Together?
Responses were: Need of education and awareness across groups; helping faith groups that are in need; develop our effectiveness to find resources and establish a central location. Promote our interfaith website, show videos / info about various groups and their needs. Likewise, show empathy toward others and overcome “fear” of reaching out to the other.

It was stressed that we do not waste energy on fear but invest in pursuing unity when first encountering the other, and that love and respect should always be the basis for interaction.

In addition: *Make conscious effort to appreciate and understand the other.
*Everything requires work, considered importance of relationships, and be ready to make investment.
*Have guidelines and structure for listening, e.g., take two minutes just to listen to the other.

As we create a physical location to meet, we must also create space of the heart. There are also financial challenges and crises, but we must tackle them together.

The program closed with the ICGR pledge: "Let peace encircle all the world, Let us walk hand in hand, A living bond of unity, A voice from land to land"; and a benediction from Rev. Phoebe Roaf, a Christian minister.

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