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Philanthropy Friday: Interfaith Center for Peace

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1981 was the era of Cold War politics. For the United States, the Soviet Union was “the enemy.” Missiles and other arms build-ups were occurring around the world. Feeling a profound need in our society for people of different faiths and spiritual backgrounds to come together to work for peace, a center for peace was born in 1982 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio.

What started as a ministry quickly developed into a more religiously diverse organization. From the opening “Arts for Peace” event, through the development of their family-oriented Peace Schools education model, to post-9/11 community conversations on the idea of a “just peace,” and most recently their first annual “Children of Abraham: Building Interfaith Peace and Community” conference in 2009, The Interfaith Center for Peace has been increasingly active in working for peace in religious communities throughout Central Ohio, and our country. They believe that there cannot be peace without engagement and cooperation from the religious communities.

Coming Together In The Name of Peace

There are many fragmented social movements in our country, and Interfaith Center for Peace aims to serve as the common space where people involved in the interfaith and peace movement can meet. The board and staff members come from a variety of religious and spiritual backgrounds. Each individual brings their personal commitment as well as their faith’s perspective on the importance of interfaith and peace work. Connecting back to their faith communities to include everyone in the programs offered is imperative in order to bring people together across lines of belief and spiritual practice around a common mission. Interfaith Center for Peace supports all who are involved and connects them to a larger community in Central Ohio, the United States, and around the world.

Challenging the Community

Interfaith Center for Peace wants to challenge this community to think about interfaith work as part of a larger process of social change. In Columbus, as in many areas of the world, interfaith differences are not merely matters of faith. They involve cultural, ethnic, racial, linguistic, and economic differences that are often closely tied to issues of conflict and violence. Interfaith Center for Peace is helping community members become stronger neighbors, leaders, intercultural problem-solvers, and teachers so together they can find the spiritual and practical resources in their traditions and experiences to build a peaceful world.

Programs offered by Interfaith Center for Peace

Using a comprehensive approach, Interfaith Center for Peace engages individuals at several levels: head, heart, and hands. Together, these elements of humanity represent our intellectual and emotional experiences and the skills we have for transforming our world.

  • The “head” refers to our levels of awareness, our thoughts, and intellectual responses that we experience when we encounter religious (or other) differences, conflicts, and violence. We can approach our differences and conflicts through logical and analytical means in order to better relate with each other and resolve our conflicts.
  • The “heart” refers to our feelings, emotional responses to conflict situations, to people different than oneself, and to the prevalence of societal violence. Our emotions often guide us toward or away from empathy, compassion, and recognition of shared humanity across lines of difference and situations of conflict both large and small.
  • The “hands” refer to the skills that help people connect across divisions and build peace among individuals and groups. Intercultural communication skills, conflict resolution models and analysis, mediation, dialogue, peace building, and other skills can help us approach our differences and our conflicts in new ways that lead to safer, more harmonious and vibrant communities in which all members are recognized as being important to the whole.

These components are addressed in the following programs:

  • Interfaith Peace Building Conferences and Mini-Conferences
  • Peace School Programs for Children and Families
  • Nonviolent Direct Action Training
  • Managing Conflict in Community
  • Interfaith Peace Education
  • “A Guide for Teaching Peacemaking”

How You Can Get Involved

A new development program was recently launched allowing people to become part of the organization through donations. “Partners for Peace” donors receive discounts at events and are offered opportunities to meet with board members and staff to celebrate successes and plan for future programs. You can download a “Partners for Peace” pdf form. General on-line donation are available as well and can be made by clicking here.

Interfaith Center for Peace also welcomes volunteers who are interested in serving on any committees, such as helping with specific programs, or helping with fundraising or communications. They currently have several volunteers serving as teachers for the upcoming Peace School, and have a multi-faith volunteer task force that plans the annual conference. If you would like to become a volunteer, email Audra Teague.

Martin Luther King Day Event

Hosting their first program of the year, Interfaith Center for Peace is holding a one-day Peace School in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 18th from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. This School’s focus is on multiculturalism and appreciating differences as components of building peace in our religiously diverse community. The event is open to adults and children that have at least entered preschool. The event will be held at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Upper Arlington, 2070 Ridgecliff Road.

Breakfast and lunch will be served during the program that mixes games and fun with the important learning about Dr. King, and our community. The price is $10 per person or $25 for three or more people in a family. Limited scholarships are available for those who need assistance with the cost.

An on-line registration form is available to download and can be found on the Interfaith Center for Peace homepage. Registration deadline is Friday, January 15th.

For more information on Interfaith Center for Peace visit www.InterfaithCenterForPeace.org or call 614-294-9019.

Philanthropy Friday is a feature article by Michele Savoldi that will highlight a Columbus area non-profit organization every other week.

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