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Quarterly Update on IF-WS Activities

posted Dec 8, 2012, 12:41 PM by Interfaith WS

Preparing for 2013: Education Is Our Aim

As we select or develop programs for Interfaith Winston-Salem, our primary aim is interfaith education – to help everyone understand and develop a respect for the religious traditions of their neighbors.  We seek programs that reach both the head and the heart through experiential learning.


We believe that both of our major programs in our first year – 2012 – accomplished that.  During July and August, we brought Muslims and non-Muslims together during Ramadan in a fasting experience, encouraging participants to fast according to their own traditions as they learned more about the discipline of fasting.  “Fast With Us So Others May Eat” helped us learn more about the charitable aspect of Ramadan as we collected over 1,000 pounds of food and more than $1,000 to support the Second Harvest Food Bank of NW North Carolina.


In November, more than 200 people representing multiple faith traditions gathered for our Interfaith Storytelling Festival at Knollwood Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.  Storytelling sessions for children, youth and adults were wrapped around a smorgasbord of food provided by Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Christian chefs.  The event was featured in an article by Fran Daniel in the Winston-Salem Journal on Nov. 4.  Mayor Allen Joines proclaimed Nov. 3 “Interfaith Storytelling Day” in Winston-Salem.


In October we began the first of what we hope will be several programs that bring together small groups of people from different faith traditions to learn and build closer relationships.  That first program was our Interfaith Contemplatives group, which meets once a month for a period of deep meditation or contemplation followed by a time of reflection.  Often the period of sharing centers on the purposes of holidays observed that month by a wide range of traditions.  If you’re interested in becoming part of this group, contact Drea Parker ( We’re beginning development now of another small group, which we call “Journeys.”  Meetings will be held monthly, possibly over a Sunday morning breakfast, to hear participants and guests share the stories of their faith journeys. Contact Jerry McLeese ( for more information.


Here are other programs on the calendar for January-April 2013 in Winston-Salem, all of which are offered at no charge to participants:


Sunday, January 27 -- “The Tribe.”  a/perture theater, 7:30 p.m.  In partnership with the Chaplain’s Office at Wake Forest University, the City’s Human Relations Commission and a/perture, we will offer a free screening of this short independent film followed by a panel discussion with Imam Khalid Griggs, Rabbi Michael Gisser and Rev. K. Monet Rice.   By tracing the history of the Barbie doll as the archetypal American woman and the 5,000-year history of the Jewish people, the film sheds light on the questions: What does it mean to be an American Jew today? What does it mean to be a member of any tribe in the 21st Century?  Watch the trailer:

Tuesday, February 5 – “The Finger and the Moon: Learning from Buddhists.” Centenary United Methodist Church, 7 p.m.  Dr. Michelle Voss Roberts of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, will deliver a one-hour lecture followed by 30 minutes of discussion.  (This three-lecture series is co-sponsored by Centenary and Interfaith Winston-Salem.)

Tuesday, February 12 – “The Family of the Book: Learning from Muslims.”  Centenary United Methodist Church, 7 p.m.  Dr. Michelle Voss Roberts continues her “Interfaith Appreciation” series.

Tuesday, February 19 – “Three Paths: Learning from Hindus.” Centenary United Methodist Church, 7 p.m.  Dr. Michelle Voss Roberts concludes her three-part lecture series.

Thursday, March 28  – “Introduction of Buddhist Meditation.”  Dr. Peter Lichstein, The Shepherd’s Center, 7 p.m.  Dr. Lichstein, an internist at Wake Forest Health, will describe Buddhist meditation, its benefits and will lead the group in meditation exercises.

Sunday, April 7 – “Holocaust Remembrance Day.”  Wake Forest’s Hillel group and Temple Emanuel take the lead on this event with assistance from Interfaith Winston-Salem. The observance will feature the showing of the award-winning film, “The Last Flight of Petr Ginz.”  Petr Ginz was a child prodigy who wrote and illustrated five novels between the ages of eight and 14 and who died at age 16 in Auschwitz. 

Sunday, April  14 – “Interfaith Youth Tour.”  Interfaith Winston-Salem will collaborate with the Interfaith Committee of the City’s Human Relations Commission on this event.  It involves youth touring three worship centers where they learn about different traditions, concluding with a pizza party at the final stop.

Date/Location TBD – “A Hindu/Christian Encounter.”  Following a trip to India, members of Dr. Michelle Voss Roberts’ class at Wake Forest will sketch three main approaches to religion in Hinduism and consider interactions between Hinduism and the Christian church.


Working to Become a “Compassionate City”

Interfaith Winston-Salem has taken the first step to seek membership for Winston-Salem in the international network of Compassionate Cities.  The IF-WS Board of Guidance gave its approval December 6 for the organization’s Leadership Team to begin the application process, which includes enlisting the support of individuals and organizations throughout the community.


“We know that compassion is at the heart of all ethical, religious and spiritual traditions,” says Andrea Parker, who will take the lead in developing Interfaith Winston-Salem’s program.   “Our vision is for residents of our city to identify themselves as people of compassion and to live intentional lives of compassion.”


Parker said self-organizing groups in Winston-Salem have many excellent programs that demonstrate compassion to other people and to our natural surroundings.  “We would invite all of these groups to come together under a ‘Compassionate City’ umbrella while pursuing their own special missions.  The role of Interfaith Winston-Salem would be to heighten the interest in programs of compassion and encourage more citizens to become involved,” she said.  


Winston-Salem could become the first city in North Carolina to be certified as a member of the international network.  Internationally, fewer than 10 cities have been certified while fewer than 100 have begun work towards certification.


Two Directors Join Board of Guidance

The Rev. Dr. Darryl Aaron and David Harold, two local community leaders, were elected to the Interfaith Winston-Salem Board of Guidance on Dec. 6.


Dr. Aaron is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church-Highland Ave. in Winston-Salem, the oldest American Baptist Church in the city.  A native of Charlotte, he received a B.A. degree from North Carolina Central University in 1992, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree from Virginia Union University in 1999 and a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Church Growth and Development from Drew University in 2012.  Dr. Aaron joins the board Class of 2014.


Mr. Harold is a member of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Winston-Salem, and is former Director of the Piedmont Triad Regional Office of Catholic Social Services. He is currently the Director of Disability Advocates of NWNC, and chairs the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Council on Services of the Homeless. For over 35 years he has been committed to his own and others’ personal and spiritual growth through psychotherapy, Tai Chi instruction, and justice work.  Mr. Harold joins the board Class of 2013.


Dr. Dan Moury, a charter member of the board, announced at the Dec. 6 board meeting that he is stepping down because of family responsibilities.  Dr. Moury was instrumental in developing by-laws for Interfaith Winston-Salem, which led to expedited approval of the organization’s 501(c)(3) application. 


Continuing members of the board are: Art Bloom, Imam Khalid Griggs, Ms. Jessica Leuchter, Dr. Peter Lichstein, Dr. Darlene May, Ms. Silvia Ramos, Sri Manjunath Shamanna and Jerry McLeese.


Current officers were elected on Dec. 6 to a second term:  Jerry McLeese, chairperson of the board; Mrs. Silvia Ramos, secretary; and Ms. Jessica Leuchter, treasurer.