Interfaith conversation to bring together local leaders

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FEBRUARY 3, 2012 12:16:00 PM

In celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week, an interfaith conversation between five local religious leaders will be held Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. in Nissan Auditorium on the Mississippi University for Women campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Part of MUW’s International Series, the discussion will explore world religions’ core teachings on violence and how to overcome it.

“The conversation will address not just armed conflict and terrorism, but also local problems like gun violence, domestic violence, and child abuse,” said Kim Whitehead, who co-directs the series and will moderate the panel. “We will explore what these traditions say about both the roots of violence and the possibilities for nonviolence.”

Panelists will include Rev. Tom Bryson of First Presbyterian Church, Columbus; Linda Campany, former Zen monk; Ghanshyam Heda, MUW faculty and leader in the India Association of Memphis; Seth Oppenheimer, student rabbi at Congregation B’nai Israel, Columbus; and Rani Sullivan of the Islamic Center of Mississippi in Starkville.

“Inter-faith dialogue is critical for promoting and maintaining civic and international stability. It is not about advocating one religion or one culture; rather, it promotes celebration and respect for diversity in our world, which can lead to nonviolent conflict resolution, thereby promoting human dignity and security,” Sullivan, who works with Whitehead on interfaith exchange between MUW students and members of the Starkville mosque, said.

World Interfaith Harmony Week grew out of the work of The Common Word initiative, which began in 2007 and calls for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in interfaith dialogue. The week was formally adopted by the United Nations in 2010 and is celebrated the first week of February.

The panel discussion is co-sponsored by MUW’s College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Student Life, Hearin Leadership Program and Department of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Zeta Rho Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.

For more information, contact Whitehead at [email protected] or Deborah Miranda at [email protected]

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