A Prayer Vigil, on the 1st anniversary of the horrific fire killing seven and displacing hundreds, was held at that site seeking healing and empowerment for the residents of Flower Valley.
Pictures include Sofia Mereydi Reyes, President of the Flower Valley Tenants Association, with Gustavo Torres, CEO of CASA and behind them are Rev. Dr. Carol Flett, and Rabbi Batya Glazer, Co-Chairs of our FCWG and among the first responders to the fire. Others are of Councilman Tom Hucker, Father Erick Lopez, Pastor Gary Nuss, Father Vidal Rivas, Imam Papa and myself. May our prayers and acts of support continue for these deserving residents .
A panel of religious leaders and an immigration expert addressed the travel ban for predominately Muslim countries and how we can uphold our values and keep Montgomery County safe. It was hosted by the Islamic Education Center in Rockville. Panelists included Imam Ahmad Bahraini, Father Jacek Orzechowski, Rev. Kasey Kaseman and Kiyanoush Razaghi. It was moderated by Shane Rock and David Trone addressed the importance of supporting refugees and immigrants.
The Montgomery County Faith Community, mobilized through the Welcoming Our New Neighbors program, has over 60 faith communities working primarily within interfaith clusters. Together they have raised in excess of $400,000 and marshaled 330 volunteers in support of 25 refugee families. Housing and employment remain the top priorities with legal assistance, mentoring, teaching English and offering general support being ways others may help.
The Security Grant Orientation drew faith leaders from 40 communities for learning how to assess their vulnerabilities, develop a master plan and apply for a grant from Montgomery County Government. It was hosted by the Islamic Center of Maryland and featured public officials from the Departments of Management and Budget, General Services, Police, Fire and Rescue, and Office of Community Partnerships. In addition, there were security professionals from the Jewish Community Relations Council and Kiernan Group Holdings. You may review the agenda here.
Interfaith Works and the Montgomery County Faith Community Advisory Council are combining their strengths to unite and magnify the impact of the interfaith community through the creation of the Interfaith Network of Montgomery County. It is a public/private partnership bringing hundreds of faith communities together to build a healthy, resilient community where all residents feel respected, valued and supported. INMC will focus on fostering dialogue and providing faith-community solutions to crucial issues, including poverty, xenophobia and bigotry.
Funding for the Interfaith Network of Montgomery County will be provided by a County grant with matching funds coming from a membership base of faith communities, organizations and individuals. To find out how you, your faith community and/or organization may become founding members, click here.
We will be hiring a full time Administrative Assistant this summer and a half time Program Director this fall. Together we will empower the working groups, teams and committees, displayed in this organizational chart (click here).
Our County Executive, Ike Leggett, in initiating INMC said, We are fortunate to have faith communities reminding us that we belong to one human family and working together for the common good.
Given increased enforcement activity in recent months by U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement, it is important that immigrant rights advocates and local communities be prepared in the event of a raid. This training helps communities respond to raids and provide support to those at risk of deportation and their families.
This is a train-the-trainer session, so participants will be encouraged to share what they have learned with their congregations and communities to help build a network of rapid responders across the region
Session A: Overview of New Sanctuary Movement (3:00-3:30 PM)
Session B: Training in Various Forms of Response (3:30-5:30 PM)
When: June 25
Where: Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church 9601 Cedar Lane
Bethesda, MD 20814
Questions: Lori.firstname.lastname@example.org(Montgomery County DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network volunteer; Takoma Park Mobilization)
DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network is a network of congregations in DC/MD/VA region that are providing support and solidarity to neighbors, friends, and family who fear being detained, deported or profiled.
County officials, faith leaders, non-profit organizations and community members joined together to memorialize 62 individuals who died during 2016 and 2017 either while homeless or after being involved in the homeless system in Montgomery County.
The moving ceremony included an invocation and remarks by Rev. Kasey Kaseman, Interfaith Community Liaison, and Rev. Linda Kauffman from Community Solutions. The names of those memorialized was read by non-profit providers who work closely with County government in providing services to the homeless. View a pictures and videos of the Community Memorial Service below:
A new initiative, Inside/NotOutside, was also launched, with the goal of ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2017. Faith communities and people of conscience may learn and becoming engaged at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/homelessness.
The Faith Community Advisory Council and the Human Rights Commission co-sponsored the United We Learn program with Montgomery County Public Schools. Over 250 students from the majority of public schools in Montgomery County submitted videos of dance, theatre, creative writing, music and beautiful art on the theme “ Combating Hate through the Arts.” Pictured with two of the winners are Superintendent Jack Smith and Rev. Kasey Kaseman who presented certificates in the presence of hundreds of proud parents and grandparents.
Securing Houses of Worship on May 4th addressed how to assess vulnerabilities, secure physical infrastructure, respond to threats and suspicious packages, develop relationships with law enforcement and protective services, and equip staff for making sound decisions.
Council President, Roger Berliner, presented a report on a supplemental grant program to improve security for houses of worship. It remains in the process of formation and counsel of faith leaders will be used in determining how it will be most useful.
It is very important to know and share the facts related to the terrible incident at Rockville High School. Some are responding in racist and political terms that are at odds with moral standards and the core values of Montgomery County.
The Co-Chairs of our Faith Community Working Group have had a series of meetings with MCPS officials related to alleviating the fears of students and parents, responding to bullying, increasing cultural competency, teaching world religions, combating hate, organizing parent academies and encouraging faith communities to support MCPS programs that unify and encourage teachers, students and parents.
Our Faith Community Advisory Council is proudly co-sponsoring the “United We Learn: Combating Hate through the Arts“. View the video, listen to our children and consider ways to promote this program within your faith community. Focusing on children and working in partnership with our highly dedicated and competent school officials, staff, teachers and students is a great antidote for the news from Washington.
In response to the bomb threats suffered by Jewish institutions, Montgomery County Executive, Ike Leggett, engaged the Faith Community Advisory Council (FCAC) to bring faith leaders to a press conference at the Jewish Community Center in Rockville. Elected officials including Senators Cardin and Van Hollen; Representatives Delaney and Raskin; County Executive, Ike Leggett and Council President, Roger Berliner, addressed the press and several hundred people. (County Executive Remarks Video)
The FCAC Executive Committee presented a Statement of Solidarity with Jewish Community Statement of Solidarity with Jewish Community that was read by Imam Faizul Khan and the Rev. Dr. Abhi Janamanchi. You may view the video of the presentations by Rev. Kaseman, Interfaith Community Liaison, and Rabbi Steinlauf, Director of Social Justice and Interfaith Initiatives for the Jewish Community Relations Council, Co-Chair of the Faith Community Working Group and member of the Executive Committee.
We condemned the horrific acts, acknowledged that today not only the Jewish community, but the Muslim and Latino communities are being scapegoated and all minority communities live in trauma. We said, “silence and inaction are not options” and expressed our love for our Jewish sisters and brothers and recommitted ourselves to stand in solidarity and work together in creating the more beloved community.