Response to hate at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour

The Episcopal Church of Our Savior was one of over 300 hate related incidents since Election Day. A large “Trump Nation Whites Only” banner greeted a diverse congregation Sunday morning. The same message covered an exterior wall.

Bishop Mariann Budde was in hand for the 1 pm Spanish service with colored chalk used by families for writing alternative messages seen in the pictures.

I spent several hours with Pastor Robert Harvey, reporters from Israel, Czech Republic, CNN and other networks, people bringing flowers and faith leaders including Rabbi Shmuel Herzfield who brought members of his congregation pictured with Rev. Harvey.

The Strait Times: Surge in hate-based incidents in US since election a concern


Registration Required for Empowering Places of Worship Open House

Empowering Places of Worship on November 9 will feature nine government departments and agencies providing essential information ranging from environmental protection to building permits, taxes to road access, water and sewer to reforestation, life safety codes to emergency response access, and buying property to sharing space and services.  The program is designed with small groups and time to answer questions and connect with faith leaders with subject experts for future reference.  Faith communities are encouraged to bring a team and return with information and contacts to save time and treasure.  Register by clicking here.

Empowering Places of Worship Flyer

2016 Montgomery County Health Care Forum

Our Healthcare Forum included state and county officials addressing changes in healthcare policy, and ACA enrollment; hospital directors of programs in health equity, parish nursing and wellness addressing partnerships with faith communities; President & Executive Director of the Primary Care Coalition addressing the Nexus partnership with all 6 hospitals in MC to improve preventative healthcare; and Chair of the Black Ministers Conference Healthcare Committee addressing role of faith leaders in improving healthcare within faith communities.

Chief take was learning hospitals have incentives to work collaboratively with faith communities and we need to do more to inform and empower faith leaders in recognizing and fulfilling their role.

World of Montgomery Festival

The World of Montgomery Festival is a source of pride and joy. The richness of our diversity was evident in dance, cuisine, dress, parade, music, exhibits and conversation.

People at our booth included an immigrant family here just three days from Jordan. Quite understandably they could hardly believe what they were seeing and hearing about our intercultural, interfaith and interracial county.

2016 Friendship Picnic September 25

The 4th Friendship Picnic and first one recognizing Welcoming America Week drew in excess of 2,000 people celebrating the diverse cultures and faiths of Montgomery County.  The entertainment ranged from the Zainab Girls singing the National Anthem to Capital Blues Ensemble, Bangladeshi Dance, Rabbi David Shneyer, Zumba and Calm Collective Indonesian Band.  Free food, face painting, carousel and train rides and exhibits including a fire truck, police, parks, recreation, voter registration and faith communities made for an informative as well as inspiring experience.  

The Faith Community Working Group booth featured Welcoming America cards and buttons together with a self-help guide identifying 8 things families and faith communities can do for welcoming refugees and immigrants.  The banner was featured on the main stage. Rev. “Kasey” Kaseman was wearing the Welcoming America t-shirt and addressed the audience regarding the Welcoming Week and the Global Conference in three weeks.  

It was a grand success with county officials, six county departments, our Office of Community Partnerships and many nonprofits and faith communities participating.

Thank you to our volunteers who helped to make this picnic a success!

Doors, hearts and minds opened at the 12th Annual Unity Walk

The 12th Annual Unity Walk commemorating 9/11 drew over 900 people to the Washington Hebrew Congregation where Rabbi David Shneyer and several of his musical friends inspired those walking down Massachusetts Avenue visiting 10 houses of worship and the Indian and Vatican embassies. 

Our Faith Community Working Group and Interfaith Community Liaison promoted and were among the diversity of faiths, races and ethnicities greeting old and new friends.   It was important to remember the pain of 9/11, our fruitless efforts to prevent further violence and the need to be walking, praying and acting for peace today. 

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring is to be applauded for substituting morning worship with joining their larger interfaith community in the walk.  Special thanks is due the Interfaith Council of Metropolitian Washington for coordinating the walk and everyone who recognized its importance and opened their doors, their hearts and their minds. 

Concluding at the Islamic Center on the eve of Eid al-Adha with the Mosaic Chorus and interfaith voices reaffirming our solidarity as sisters and brothers was wonderful.  Remember you may enjoy the same spirit at our 4th Annual Friendship Picnic on Sunday, September 25, 1-5 pm at Wheaton Regional Park.

The Faith Community Rights and Government Best Practices Forum

Officials and faith leaders drew some 80 people to the Silver Spring Civic Building for a Forum about Faith Community Rights and Government Best Practices featuring Eric Treene, Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination in the United States Department of Justice.   Attendees were grateful to learn more about their Constitutional rights and to work together to improve the process whereby faith communities buy, build and renovate property.  There were several requests for the following Power Point presentation Know Your Rights! A Forum on Religious Land Use

Montgomery County Faith Community Welcomes Refugees


Update on Welcoming Refugees
Syrian Families are arriving – It’s time to welcome our New Neighbors
The refugee resettlement agencies listed below report dozens of Syrian families arrived over the summer and more are on the way.  Several faith communities and a newly formed interfaith network have partnered with these agencies and are already helping 12 families.
Faith communities should contact agencies directly to set up a partnership:* Lutheran Social Services
Mira Mendick, Community Resource Coordinator
Maryland Office: 3799 East West Highway,
Hyattsville, MD 20782

 Ph: (571)242-8072

* Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)
Bridget Weisenreder, Resource Development Coordinator

 (703) 685-0510 ext. 222
Maryland Office: 8121 Georgia Avenue
Suite 800

Silver Spring, MD 20910

* International Rescue Committee
Mark Youmans, Volunteer Coordinator
8719 Colesville Rd.

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Responding to Tragedy in Silver Spring

The faith community has been responding to the deadly fire at the Long Branch Apartments in several ways.  In addition to our prayers, the Emotional Spiritual Care Volunteers have been caring for families in their shelter and leaders from several faith traditions helped plan and participated in the Prayer Vigil.  You may recognize some faces in the picture above and view a two minute video. Memorial services are being planned and care is being given to honor the faith and cultural traditions of every family.
Government, nonprofit and faith communities are working collaboratively to assure effective and trustworthy support for the victims.  Financial contributions are most important and they may be done online at Volunteers are needed and may sign up by clicking VOLUNTEER SIGN UP. As people of faith, we know our essential nature is love, and responding in love increases the love that unites, strengthens and keeps hope alive.
Salaam, Shalom, Namaste, Om Shanti, Satsriakal, Peace,