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Foundation Honors IF-WS

posted May 7, 2014, 11:29 AM by Interfaith WS

The Winston-Salem Foundation honored Interfaith Winston-Salem Wednesday afternoon (May 7) at its annual Community Luncheon by presenting an ECHO award for our work in building social capital.

Ibrahim Thompson of the Annoor Islamic Center and the Rev. Kelly Carpenter, senior pastor at Green Street United Methodist Church, nominated Interfaith Winston-Salem for the award.

Jerry McLeese, Drea Parker and Art Bloom represented Interfaith Winston-Salem at the luncheon held at the Benton Convention Center.

The Winston-Salem Foundation and the ECHO Network present the award to honor people and organizations that are creating a stronger community by building connections among people.  ECHO is an acronym for Everyone Can Help Out.

The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all "social networks" (who people know) and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other (norms of reciprocity).

The luncheon program recognized Interfaith Winston-Salem with this statement:  Interfaith Winston-Salem brings together members of many faith traditions – religious and non-religious - to gain a greater understanding of and respect for each other’s traditions.  This three year-old nonprofit offers interfaith educational opportunities through traditional classroom approaches as well as experiential events.  Led by a diverse leadership team, Interfaith Winston-Salem also spearheaded the effort to establish Winston-Salem as a City of Compassion, the 18th worldwide.”

A copy of the nomination follows.


In its third year, Interfaith Winston-Salem (IF-WS) has a vision of Winston-Salem as a peaceable city where all people understand and respect the traditions of their neighbors, religious and non-religious.

The Board of Guidance and Leadership Team span many faith and non-faith traditions, including Christian (Protestant and Catholic, progressive and conservative), Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Unitarian Universalist, Unity, Vedanta, Pagan, secular humanist, spiritual but not religious and NONES.

IF-WS has built relationships with Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities and has fostered collaborations with a wide range of organizations, including the City’s Human Relations Commission, Leadership Winston-Salem, the Forsyth County Public Library, the Shepherd’s Center, Crisis Control, Wake Forest University, Salemtowne – the Moravian Retirement Community, RiverRun Film Festival, a/perture cinema, Hospice, PRIDE Winston-Salem, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and others.

Leaders of Interfaith Winston-Salem spearheaded the effort in which the mayor and city council unanimously endorsed the Charter for Compassion, which is based on the Golden Rule.  As a result, the City of Winston-Salem became the first city in the South and the 18th in the world to join the International Compassionate Cities Campaign.  Approximately 400 local individuals and organizations have endorsed the Charter.  Volunteers are implementing a Constellations model that will work with local organizations and individuals to bring the compassionate movement to workplaces, K-12 classrooms, college/university campuses and healthcare centers.

Here are a few examples of IF-WS work in building social capital:

1.     Immediately after the bombing during last year’s Boston Marathon in which two Muslim terrorists were implicated, Interfaith Winston-Salem brought together 20 Christian and Muslim families for a dinner and relationship-building evening.

2.     More than 110 men and women registered for interfaith book clubs, including 23 Muslims.  The participants have read and discussed four books.  During the public library’s “on the same” program in September, formerly homeless women participated in the six different IF-WS book clubs that discussed “The Pursuit of Happyness.” 

3.     More than 500 people attended a series of lectures on Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

4.     An Interfaith Storytelling Festival attracted more than 200 people for an event that included activities for children, youth, adults and intergenerational gatherings.

5.     Youth from Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, Buddhist and Kwanzaa traditions helped children in grades K-5 with arts and crafts that illustrated features of their traditions.  Over 200 attended.

6.     Monthly “Journeys” breakfast meetings on the First Sunday have grown constantly, in March reaching 60 participants who represent at least seven faith traditions.  Speakers have come from Muslim, Jewish, Christian (conservative and progressive), Hindu, Seventh-Day Adventist, Pagan and other traditions.

7.     The Interfaith Youth Tour in 2013 visited the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Trinity Moravian Church and the Community Mosque.  More than 75 youth and adults participated and enjoyed a free pizza party.

8.     IF-WS is partnering with Temple Emanuel and Green Street Church to bring the Afro-Semitic Jazz Ensemble to Winston-Salem in April as part of a week-long focus on racism. 

The 11 o’clock hour Sunday morning is considered the most segregated hour of the week.  This segregation continues as Sunday silos ferment exclusive weekday social groupings.  IF-WS is creating circles of interaction that overlap and result in a finer matrix of relationships.  By involving marginalized groups like the LBGTQ community in visible leadership roles IF-WS creates greater acceptance and recognition for these individuals.

Interfaith Winston-Salem focuses on the central portion of the continuum that extends outward to peace or violence.  The organization works to build understanding and respect, necessary first steps that lead to trust, justice and peace and avoid the downward spiral of ignorance, mistrust, hatred and violence.  As more people in an increasingly pluralistic society come together in understanding their neighbors they can contribute to the general welfare without a concern for their own safety.  In the corporate workplace efforts at building a more compassionate environment will lessen the us-them dichotomy and create a more positive, productive workplace.