This has been a difficult and challenging year for all of us. The Interfaith Center sends its most heartfelt condolences for all those who have endured both financial and emotional loss over the course of the past year. In the face of much adversity, we thank you for your ongoing support and participation in the Interfaith Center’s programming. We hope that these continued offerings have brought you some solace during these times of uncertainty, just as your participation has brought hope to our small organization.
The Interfaith Center began the new year optimistically, offering a grant-funded implicit bias training held in Oxford and live-streamed to a second location in Hamilton. Little did we know this would be the first of many virtual efforts we would produce this year. By March, we were forced to close our building indefinitely. Consequently, it became unavoidable for us to re-envision how both our programming, and our mission, fit into this new world.
The Interfaith Center board strongly believes that the impact of this world-wide pandemic has made our work more important than ever before. As people around the world feel isolated, disconnected, and overcome by despair, interfaith movements offer the hope we all need to move forward. Now, more than ever, people are willing to listen to one another, to connect, and look to the many wonderful traditions of the world for a path towards a better future.
We passionately believe that interfaith cooperation is not only necessary, but imminent, if we hope to build a more just and equitable world for all people. However, we must also acknowledge our own limitations as a small nonprofit. If we are to continue to be a driving force for change, we need your help. We have received such warm and inspiring feedback from so many of you and it is with great humility that we make this request. If there was ever a moment that we gave you hope, at a time you needed it the most, please know that your generosity allows us the opportunity to cultivate that moment for someone else. It is through boundless moments of compassion that we create a movement.
You are the Interfaith Center. You are the movement. Join us.
Geneva Blackmer, Program Director
Dear Interfaith Community Members and Supporters,
The year 2020 has presented great challenges for all of us. The following list describes the dark and light times common to all of us.
DARKNESS: political and racial unrest, the Covid19 global pandemic, sickness, deaths, overworked medical workers, essential workers, stay at home orders, masks, social distancing, washing hands, unemployment, food insecurity, school shut downs, home schooling, distance learning, growing spread of Covid19.
LIGHT: Covid19 responders, essential workers, public expression of gratitude for all these workers, songs that brought us all through these months “Stand by Me”, Lean on Me”, copious new songs about the pandemic, Dr. Fauci and all the other doctors who give direction for conquering the Virus, scientists who are working tirelessly on a vaccine, rise of BLM Movement, the 2020 election.
Here at the Interfaith Center we had to meet the challenge of keeping our mission alive during these days of the pandemic: To invite people from diverse secular, spiritual, religious traditions to participate in each other’s practices in order to cultivate appreciative understanding and friendships.
As chair of the board of directors of TIC, I never doubted for a moment that our dedicated board members, along with our talented and creative program director, Geneva Blackmer, would come up with a plan to continue our work. As you probably know, we continued our mission through zoom meetings by bringing together, more people than ever, to meet with one another to share their secular, spiritual and religious journeys in life, cultivating a greater appreciation and understanding of each other’s story. I believe that we have the obligation of engaging in constructive conversation so that we can teach ourselves, our children, our grandchildren how to build bridges and not walls. We need to create an environment for them so that they can be proud of their own secular, spiritual and religious beliefs and practices, while also learning from those of other worldviews.
Now in the midst of our successful programing, Haven, the drug and alcohol out- patient clinic, that rented the upstairs of our building are no longer able to continue their mission because of the pandemic, and has moved out. A great deal of our income came from renting that space. Your generosity in the past has been very much appreciated. It is now, under these circumstances, that we come to you once again to ask, if you are able, for your financial support toward our mission.
It is our sincere hope that you and your families stay well and safe. We have much to be thankful for during this season of Thanksgiving. Let us not grow weary and careless, but carry on with the sacrifice needed to conquer this virus.
Peace and Gratitude,
Chair of TIC’s Board of Directors
The Interfaith Center is proud to have worked collaboratively with the following organizations during 2020: MU Center for American and World Cultures, MU Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, The MU META Collective, Hillel at MU, Trinity Episcopal Church, Lane Libraries, the Hamilton Community Foundation, the Greater Miami Valley YMCA, Interfaith Youth Core, Oxford Area PFLAG, Doughby’s in Oxford, MU Regionals Diversity and Multicultural Services, the Ohio Council of Churches, Contemplative Outreach- Kansas City, the Dialogue Institute of Kansas City, the Devine Witch Pagan group of Middletown, Oxford Seniors Ecology Club, Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice (OCPJ), CRES, the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, EarthConnection of Cincinnati, Black Lives Matter Oxford and Cincinnati, Oxford Presbyterian Church, Atheists United, the Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada, the Cincinnati Festival of Faiths, the League of Women Voters Oxford, the Wisconsin Interfaith Voter Engagement Campaign (an initiative of Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice and the Wisconsin Council of Churches), The Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington, All Voting is Local Ohio, MU EcoReps, Advocates of Silenced Turkey, the United Religions Initiative (URI), Golden Women Vision in Uganda, the Heartland Chapter of Alliance of Divine Love, and Start the Wave.
2020 Program Offerings:
Building Sacred Connections: Understanding How Implicit Bias Can Get in the Way of Building Meaningful Relationships (grant funded by Interfaith Youth Core, the META Collective, and the Hamilton Community Foundation)
Safe Zone Training
When Religion Gets It Right: Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Power in Unity: A Women’s History Month event
Anote’s Ark Film Screening and Discussion with Dr. Michael Roman
Peace, Religion, Environment: An Indigenous Perspective with Ilarion Merculieff
A God Atheists Can Believe In with the Rev. Dr. Vern Barnet
Climate Change, Poverty and Refugees: It is All Connected with Sr. Caroljean Willie
I am a Zen Master, Ask Me Anything with The Most Venerable Sunyananda
Reaching Racial Relevance Through Overcoming Racial Numbness with the Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr.
An Introduction to Centering Prayer with the Rev. Rob Carr
The Story of Plastic Film Discussion with Carla Blackmar
How to Help Unplug Religious Extremism with Bill Tammeus
How Do We Understand the Bible in 2020? with the Rev. Marc van Bulck
Practices for Living with the Rev. Mary McCoy
Exploring Religious Power, Privilege and Pain with Evan Clark
What is the Role of Interfaith Movements in Anti-Racist Efforts? with the Rev. Will Rucker
Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters with the Rev. Kelly Isola
The Fallacy of Oneness: Denying Inner Diversity, Denies Diversity with Carrah Quigley
Police Relations, Review and Reform: An International and Local Perspective with Dr. Amber Franklin
Interfaith Understanding is Too Slight a Thing with the Rev. Dr. Vern Barnet and David Nelson
Human Rights Violations in Turkey with Dr. Eyyup Esen
A Queer Life of Faith: One Christian’s Discoveries with Slats Toole
True Beliefs and Stereotypical Misconceptions: An Open Conversation About Faith Traditions (developed by TIC's Student Intern, Nav Chima)
Recurring Program Offerings:
Coffee Hour (developed by Board Members Dr. Fatima Emlemdi and Rebecca Newlin)
Mindful Moments (led by Board Member Prince Johnson)
The Divergent Immigrant Experiences (developed by TIC's Student Liaison, Priyana Kalita, and grant funded by Interfaith Youth Core)
Thomas Merton Series (presented by Mike Johnson)
Faith Sharing Series (in partnership with the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council)
Programs the Interfaith Center has Co-Sponsored:
Guide to the Gods (the Devine Witch Pagan Group)
Community Relations and Law Enforcement in Oxford (the League of Women Voters)
Combatting Voter Suppression (the Wisconsin Interfaith Voter Engagement Campaign)
The Cincinnati Festival of Faiths (EquaSion)
Unity Walk Resource Fair (The Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington)
Interfaith Thanksgiving Program (The Heartland Chapter of Alliance of Divine Love and the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council)
Ongoing donation Drive for BLM Oxford and Cincinnati consisting of medical supplies, protective equipment, water, snacks, masks, etc.
EcoReps Water Bottle Project
COVID-19 Relief Donation to the Family Resource Center
Raised $1,170 in donations for Golden Women Vision in Uganda
The SADHU Series on loan from the Museum of Spiritual Art (virtual exhibit by Priyana Kalita)
Faith Communities in Action on loan from the Dayton Peace Museum (virtual exhibit by Priyana Kalita)