Tag: interfaith

The Compassion of Faith Communities

“Standing United with Compassion” Compassion Month
October 13 – November 12  

Where did the Compassion Month idea stem from?  More than 30 Pierce County faith leaders came together earlier this year to express solidarity against hate speech and threats of violence directed at faith communities, particularly synagogues and mosques; they are now issuing a call to local congregations to declare their shared commitment to be agents of compassion and mutual support.

Associated Ministries welcomes Pierce County faith communities to take part in Compassion Month, with a kick-off weekend October 13th.

Activities During Compassion Month 


**Compassion Weekend Kick-Off October 13-15th**

Interfaith Shabbat Service – hosted by Temple Beth El
Friday, Oct. 13, 7:30 p.m.

Begin the weekend by attending an interfaith service with a compassion theme.  Service will begin at 7:30 at Temple Beth El with fellowship time immediately following.

Read/Share the Statement of Compassion
Weekend of Oct. 13-15

A Statement of Compassion (click here to download) has been prepared that can be signed and/or read in worship services, ideally during Compassion Weekend.  Feel free to share from the pulpit, maybe use as a responsive reading, or consider printing on a large piece of paper and having your congregants sign in support.  You may use the statement as written or tweak to create what works within your faith tradition.  

**The Entire Compassion Month (Oct. 13 – Nov. 12)! **

How does your faith community show their compassion?  How do you get the youth in your community involved?  What service projects do you do that reflect compassion?

Resources and suggested activities to help create a “Standing United with Compassion” observance or activity in your faith community have been compiled and are available to download here.

Please share with us how you express compassion as a faith community.  We’d love to share your creative ideas! 

If you have any questions, comments or would like to share your compassion activity ideas, please e-mail to sandyw@associatedministries.org or 253-426-1506.  We hope to see you on Friday, October 13th at Temple Beth El here in Tacoma.

Inviting Faith Communities Who Want to Join the Call to Action

  • Create a team to fill some homeless kits with useful items for families experiencing homelessness.  Kits will be given to Catholic Community Services’ Family Housing Network.
  • Give bus passes and socks to Shared Housing Services, a program that serves youth and young adults, ages 16 – 24, who are experiencing homelessness.  These bus passes are essential, so youth can make it to and from important appointments.

These are just two of the many ways that people attending our Community Quarterly Meetings (CQ) have pledged to help support local agencies working with those experiencing homelessness. And we need your help as we take action on the crisis of homelessness in our community. 

We hope you will join us at our next CQ Meeting on Thursday, September 21st, from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 7410 South 12th Street, Tacoma, WA 98465. The goal of these meetings are to gather people of faith and goodwill to create an energizing space in Pierce County to share knowledge, and act on strategies to end homelessness.

Attendees will be informed and educated about homelessness in Pierce County, gain understanding of effective interventions, and discuss potential projects and solutions through presentations and discussions. 

The lineup of speakers for our next CQ meeting includes:

Gerrit Nyland: Homeless Programs Data Administrator for Catholic Community Services.  Gerrit will present a clear and compelling understanding of what homelessness looks like in Pierce County.

Tiegan Tidball Bradbury: Systems Analyst for the City of Tacoma.  Tiegan will provide an update on where the City is at regarding its emergency declaration on homelessness.

Noah Baskett: Sr. Director of Community Engagement for the Rescue Mission, Tacoma.  Noah will discuss potential projects in which people of faith and goodwill can take part. 

This is a CALL TO ACTION for those representing a specific faith community (as a pastor or appointed representative) along with anyone else interested in helping to end homelessness. Multiple attendees from your faith community or organization are welcome to attend; we will have three different breakout groups, and you may want to have a person attending each one.

If you have any questions, please contact Valorie Crout at valoriec@associatedministries.org or 253-426-1508. 

Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration

Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Gathering

Join us as we come together in peace and community at Thanksgiving to explore and reflect upon gratitude and being “undivided in faith.”

Tuesday, November 21st, 7:00 p.m.
Immanuel Presbyterian Church
901 North “J” Street | Tacoma, WA 98403

For more than a quarter of a century, this annual Thanksgiving gathering has brought together people of many faith traditions.  The service may include choirs and participants from the Bahá’í, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, Center for Spiritual Living, The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Sufi, and Unitarian Universalist faith traditions.

A reception and fellowship time will follow the service.

For more information please call (253) 426-1506 or email sandyw@associatedministries.org.

Stay tuned for more information!

The Sacred Month of Ramadan

Ramadan, the most sacred of months for Muslims, begins this year on May 27th (ending June 25th). Most people think of fasting when they think about Ramadan; however, it is so much more than that for those who practice the Islam faith.  Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking; it is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on Allah (God), and practice self-discipline and sacrifice.

The annual act of fasting (sawm) during the month of Ramadan is considered one of the 5 Pillars of Islam.  The other pillars, which shape a Muslim’s life, include daily prayer (salat), charity (zakat), professing one’s faith (shahaadh), and pilgrimage (hajj) completed at least once in a lifetime.  Every year, Muslims take an entire month to observe this strict fast and rededicate themselves to worship and faith.

Each night of Ramadan, Muslims end their daily fast at sunset with a celebratory meal called iftar, literally translated as “break fast.” 

In partnership with the Pacifica Institute and University of Puget Sound, Associated Ministries would like to invite you again this year for an interfaith iftar dinner on June 14th at UPS, from 8:00-10:00 p.m.  This event and dinner is free; however, registration is required.  Register at https://associatedministries.org/event/iftardinner2017/

We hope to see you there.  Until then, salaam alaikum (peace be upon you)!

Skating for Homes

On Friday, June 2, 2017, Associated Ministries will be welcoming groups of youth from different faith communities to our first-ever “Skating for Homes” skate-a-thon.  This free and fun event, will be from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm at Rollin’ 253 Skate and Community Center.

Through our partnership with Rollin’ 253 Skate & Community Center, and Help Us Move In, we are able to help educate youth about the issue of homelessness and help raise funds for youth who, along with their families, are experiencing homelessness.  Youth will have the opportunity to seek donations for either each lap they complete within one hour, or a flat donation.  All funds raised will be matched dollar for dollar by the generosity of Help Us Move In and will be used to directly assist clients with children who are in need of help with housing.

This is also a wonderful opportunity for youth leaders at our partner faith communities to help their youth understand the issue of homelessness and discuss ways they are drawn to help.  For more information or to request a housing specialist to speak to your group, please contact Wendy Morris, Community Engagement Coordinator at wendym@associatedministries.org or 253-383-3056 ext. 117.

Registration for “Skating for Homes” closes on Friday, May 26th so make sure to turn your request for tickets and receive pledge cards in to wendym@associatedministries.org before the deadline.  

Two Days with Theologian Matthew Fox

Center for Spiritual Living-Tacoma is hosting Matthew Fox, internationally renowed teacher and theologian on Friday evening on March 31 from 7:00-9:30 PM at the Elks Allenmore Golf and Events Center 2013 South Cedar Street, Tacoma,WA 98405 and Saturday, April 1 from 9:30-1:00 PM. He will also speak at the 11AM service at Center for Spiritual Living-Tacoma on April 2, 2017.

Fox  is a major figure in 21st century theology. He has has written more than 30 books which have sold over 1.5 million copies in 60 languages. He holds a doctorate, summa cum laude, in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris. He is committed to eco-justice, social justice and gender justice., and is a recipient of the Abbey Courage of Conscience Peace Award and Ghandi King Ikeda Award.

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Peace Building – Bringing People Closer Together

It is rare in today’s society to see leaders of multiple faith communities coming together except during times of tragedy. It seems to be something we forget that is vital to our growth as individuals and as a community.DSC_0745-1

Last month four experts from different religious congregations did just that; met in a time of peace to discuss that very topic. Joshua Christy representing the Baha’i faith, Reverend Joseph Hickey-Tiernan representing the various branches of Christianity, Doctor Turan Kayaoglu representing Islam, and Reverend Kojo Kakihara representing Buddhism all served as panelists during the first public interfaith dialogue in Tacoma.

The discussion was led by Dr. Amanda Feller, Associate Professor in School of the Arts and Communication at Pacific Lutheran University.  Her teaching, scholarship and practitioner work combines communication theory, conflict management and pedagogy.  She particularly focuses on the method of dialogue in learning and peacebuilding.  Each expert was asked to comment on what peace means to their respective faith. While each individual response was quite different, the message ultimately was very similar.

DSC_0744-1“When I think of Islam and peace the first thing that comes to my mind is the term ‘Salam’ which comes from the term ‘peace,’” said Dr. Kayaoglu. “Peace with ones’ self, peace with God or the creator, and peace with fellow beings.”

“Enlightenment which is what we Buddhists aim for is the state of perfect peace, serenity and joy,” said Rev. Kakihara. “To give others peace is to bring us peace. In peace, there is the feeling of safety; no fear, no hatred, no suffering and no delusions. In Buddhism, wisdom and compassion are the basis of all teachings. We understand and respect each other, and acknowledge that we are different. In the eyes of Buddhism, we are not all the same, but we are one, even in our differences.”

“My understanding of peace comes from the Baha’i teaching that says ‘When a thought of war comes oppose it by a stronger thought of peace, a thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love,’” said Christy. “That is to say that peace is not a passive state that is derived from the mere state of lack of problems and disagreements. In contrast, peace comes from an active, more powerful state of love. Peace is not derived from avoiding disagreements or pretending like there are no problems. Peace comes when there is the genuine spiritual state of love and unity that brings together hearts, communities, and nations. A lot of the work of the Baha’i community is bringing together people of various backgrounds to work together in service to their communities.”

“For Christians, long before we construct an ethic of peace, we already live in awareness that peace is already given,” said Reverend Hickey-Tiernan. “We seek it in others, created in the image of the other. We find it hidden in ourselves, a treasure to be discovered and shared. Peace is the way to peace; living life fully, with awareness and attention, engaging with those who struggle and suffer, feeling kinship with all who are devoted to truth and compassion connects us. We understand one another within our understanding of what Jesus saw in us and in the world. We accept that others have come to the same place through other paths. We are at peace.”

The audience was asked to break into groups to discuss multiple topics to inspire thought and conversation. DSC_0748-1These subjects included some hopes and fears people may have in sharing their beliefs, individual peace building efforts, religious backgrounds in different peoples’ names, and various personal experiences in discrimination or judgment.

“I love those lessons of learning what that feels like,” said one audience member of the Baha’i faith who shared an experience she had with discrimination. “It makes me more empathetic to people who face that on a daily basis.”

The various beliefs of audience members was even more diverse than the panelists, ranging from Unitarian Universalists, Jews, Catholics, Evangelists, Agnostics and even some who solely believed in science.

During the course of these group talks, audience members grew closer to one another. Some who were quieter at the beginning began to open up and talk more. Others who did not have any experience with people of different religions began to make connections to their own in the basic foundation of beliefs. Others still shared future dates, times and locations for services within their faith – inviting their new friends to participate even exchanging contact information.

“This event helped me a lot because I don’t usually talk to people about my religion and other people’s religion,” said one audience member of the Jewish faith.

This dialogue left each participant feeling uplifted and hopeful towards a future of peace within our community.

“It was a really nice opportunity to meet with different people,” said one participant of the Buddhist faith. “We’ve lived here maybe a year and a half and haven’t had the chance to get out there and meet as many people as we want to so hearing about people’s different experiences and what their life has been like has been a truly refreshing experience.”

The event ended with a prayer from each expert, with some audience members of the same faith participating in the tradition and words they knew all too well.

“The religion of God is for love and unity,” sang Stephanie Christy, wife of the Baha’i expert, as a closing prayer. “Make it not the cause of enmity or dissension.”

2nd Annual Interfaith Ramadan Iftar Dinner

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Guests discuss the commonalities in their religions as multiple faiths gather together for the Pacifica Institute’s public Iftar dinner. (Photo credit/Chelsea Gitzen)

As the month of Ramadan nears an end next week on Tuesday, July 5th, it’s a time for the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world to finish their month-long dedication to prayer, charity and other acts of good deeds while seeking forgiveness as well as guidance. Many are currently celebrating the last 10 days in a total disconnect from the world to pray which is called Iʿtikāf (retreat).  Others are using the holiday as an opportunity to come together to build lifelong relationships with their neighbors in the local community.  This past week on Tuesday, a large group of nearly 100 local Muslims and people of many faiths were brought together by the Pacifica Institute, University of Puget Sound, and Associated Ministries to enjoy an Iftar dinner breaking the daily fast at sundown.

“As we all gather here tonight coming from different backgrounds, I see some faces that I know and those that I don’t know that I hope to meet,” said Tezcan Inanlar, Pacifica Institute’s Northwest Regional Director. “I want to encourage all of us to take our time and try to connect which is the way to bring our communities to a solidarity so we can build a capacity, foster relationships and mutual understanding. It’s already happening here in Tacoma and I’m very hopeful for that.”

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Guests watch a video together on the meaning behind Ramadan and details about the custom of fasting as well as breaking the fast each night. (Photo credit/Chelsea Gitzen)

The room was filled with nearly 100 guests and practicing Muslims from the local community. Some were attending to learn more about the Muslim tradition of Ramadan and Iftar, others were seeking to form new relationships with people of a different faith, while others still were celebrating the end of their fast as well as the company of newcomers. As the second annual event, many were returning this year in hopes of showing their support.

The event was also educational, including a video on Ramadan and what it means to those who celebrate it. Guest speakers included members from different faiths who commented on the religious virtues related to togetherness and peace.

“In one of the verses in the Quran, Allah says to all human kind that he created you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you might come to know each other,” said Dr. Etga Ugur, Professor in the Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences School at University of Washington Tacoma. “In the Quran, Allah also says if he wanted he could have created us as a single community but he chose to create diversity of tongues and colors so that we can strive as a community or race and strive in virtues and seek unity in diversity.”

From Tezcan4

Dr. Etga Ugur, University of Washington Tacoma professor, speaks at the 2016 interfaith Iftar dinner celebration at the University of Puget Sound. Dr. Ugur commented on the tradition of Ramadan and the Quran’s teachings to appreciate the diversity of the human race. (Photo credit/Bunyamin Sisman)

It is accurate to say the entire room of attendees felt unified as they grew closer to one another, and learned that we are not as different as one might think. The recurring theme that we all hold the same virtues dear within our respective faiths and want the best for our fellow mankind was present in both the presentations as well as the individual discussions at each table.

“This country, though far from perfect, is as great as it is because of the contributions from refugees from all over the world over the years,” said Rabbi Bruce Kadden of Temple Beth El. “Let us open our hearts and open our doors to refugees who need our love and support. May all who are refugees find love, support and care. May the wars which ravaged their homelands be resolved so that those who wish may return home. And may all who suffer come to know peace and justice.”

Featured Photo: Members of different religions share dinner and discussion at the 2016 interfaith Iftar dinner at the University of Puget Sound. (Photo credit/Bunyamin Sisman)

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