Lenten service features Jewish and Muslim speakers

image-9.Bibi and Ann
Ann Eliadas from the Jewish Temple, and Bibi Bahrami from the Islamic Center have formed a wonderful friendship and have been active in the Muncie Interfaith Fellowship Cooperation Circle.

Lent is the 6 week penitential season in Christianity. This year, weekly Lenten services are being held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Muncie, Indiana every Wednesday at noon until Easter Sunday. These services are being sponsored by Christian Ministries of Delaware County.

This past Wednesday, March 18, our guest speakers were Ann Eliadas from the Jewish Temple, and Bibi Bahrami from the Islamic Center. These two ladies have formed a wonderful friendship and have been active in the Muncie Interfaith Fellowship which is our Cooperation Circle in the United Religions Initiative.

Congratulations to Ann and Bibi for all you do to support interfaith fellowship in the City of Muncie, Indiana.

George Wolfe, Chair
Muncie Interfaith Fellowship

Cooperation circle puts spotlight on human trafficking

“Be aware of people in vulnerable emotional situations,” said Reverend Alison Hendley of the First United Methodist Church in San Rafael.

To the Marin County faith leaders gathered together for a program on human trafficking, the message was clear: human trafficking is happening here; it’s happening now; and people of faith must do something about it.

Nearly 40 Christian, Mormon, Pagan, Jewish and Buddhist leaders gathered for the event on October 21 at the First Presbyterian Church in San Rafael, California. The event was organized by the Marin Interfaith Council, a United Religions Initiative cooperation circle.

“There is no greater mitzvah [commandment] than the redeeming of captives,” said Rabbi Stacy Friedman of Congregation Rodef Sholom as she lead the group in a textual study of the Torah.  She emphasized that the Medieval Jewish Philosopher Maimonides said everything – even a Torah scroll – should be sold to redeem captives.

She said that, in our community, these captives are those being trafficked for sex or labor.

Diana Doubleday, a leader of the Marin Organizing Committee and a member of Congregation Rodef Sholom, encouraged participants to put aside the notion that trafficking victims come from other countries: in 2012 the California Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Work Group determined that 83% of sex trafficking victims they identified were U.S. citizens.

“Sex trafficking is starting to surpass drug trafficking because [traffickers] can sell a girl over and over again,” said Lynn Bauer of Fairfax Community Church.

Doubleday said people who become victims of trafficking all have one thing in common: they are vulnerable.

“Be aware of people in vulnerable emotional situations,” said Reverend Alison Hendley of the First United Methodist Church in San Rafael.

The most common places to find victims are in the sex, restaurant, construction,  hospitality, agriculture, landscaping, fishing, manufacturing and home care industries, said Bauer.  Doubleday said people should follow their gut and report anything that doesn’t seem “right” by calling the Human Trafficking Hotline at: 1-888-373-7888.

“Preach on this issue!” she encouraged. “And we can exponentially increase awareness.”

Awareness, or community education, is one of three approaches she recommends to tackled human trafficking. The other two are legal prosecution and victim services.

There are no shelters in Marin County for victims of trafficking.


Follow this link for a factsheetlist of resources (or these Look Beneath the Surface resources) on human trafficking. If you want to share best practices about how your interfaith group can address the issue of human trafficking, contact the Marin Interfaith Council by following this link.  You can also comment below!

Fighting Ebola: An update from URI West Africa

By Emmanuel Ivorgba
URI Regional Coordinator, West Africa

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 5,000 people have died already in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, from a total of about 9,000 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola. A few cases were reported in Nigeria and a single case in Senegal; but these cases were contained quickly, with no further spread in these countries.

“It is clear … that the situation in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is deteriorating, with widespread and persistent transmission of (Ebola),” the WHO stated last week.

YAD in collaboration with its German partner, Fambul Tik e.V, has shipped 32 hospital beds with matrasses and 3 palettes of medical stuffs to Sierra Leone.

The origin of this virus, especially in West Africa, is a subject of debates and conspiracy theories. One thing however is certain: thousands of human beings have been infected, many have died already,If drastic measures are not taken, many more may get infected and die. Everyone one of us are effected, either directly or indirectly.
One of our newest cooperation circles, Youth in Action for Development (YAD), based in Kenema District in Sierra Leone, is leading URI’s action against Ebola in the region. In collaboration with its German Partner, Fambul Tik e.V, YAD has, in the last three months, shipped 32 hospital beds with mattresses and three palettes of medical supplies to Sierra Leone. A second shipment of 35 beds and more medical supplies is currently underway. These beds and medical supplies are being delivered to various health posts in Kenema district, including Kenema city itself.

Recently, Nigeria and Senegal were officially declared “Ebola Free” by the World Health Organization but the situation in neighboring Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone remains very critical.

The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sent out a passionate letter appealing to leaders and citizens of the world to rise and help humanity in pain in West Africa. In the letter, she says, “Ebola is not just a health crisis – across West Africa, a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe as harvests are missed, markets are shut and borders are closed. The virus has been able to spread so rapidly because of the insufficient strength of the emergency, medical and military services that remain under-resourced and without the preparedness to confront such a challenge.”

The current number of clinics and Ebola treatment facilities are not adequate.

According to the Liberian President, one thing is very clear here, the fight against Ebola is a fight in which the whole world must show concern because we all have a stake. This disease respects no borders. The damage it is causing in West Africa, whether in public health, the economy or within communities is already reverberating throughout the region and across the world.

Slideshow 2

URI North America - Slideshow
URI North America - Slideshow

URI – Cooperation Circles (CCs)

North America Cooperation Circles Building Interfaith Peace Together. The CCs are the heart of URI. Independent, self-governing and self-funding, they build cooperation among people of all faiths and traditions…

[readon url=”our-ccs/north-american-ccs.html”]More Info About North America CCs[/readon]