Nonviolence As a Way of Life

The Interfaith Center is a non-profit organization consisting of 7 volunteers and 1 part-time Program Director.  In 2020 we pivoted to online programming, creating a YouTube library of video resources to support our mission. 

The Interfaith Center's mission is to invite people from diverse secular, spiritual, religious traditions to participate in one another’s practices in order to cultivate appreciative understanding and friendship. We seek to unify people of all faiths, and no faith, around common moral, social and ethical concerns in order to build a more just and equitable society. 

Our event for World Interfaith Harmony Week focused on Nonviolence. 

Program Description: 
Join our panel of speakers who have made Nonviolence the central tenet of their work and their lives. About this event True nonviolence is not only a strategy or a tactic, it is a way of life. The panelists will share how their commitment to Nonviolence changed their lifestyle and their life path. Our discussion will include: * the greatest challenges one has to overcome in order to stay committed to a nonviolent life * the importance of nonviolence in creating social change * the greatest obstacles in creating social change through nonviolence 

Dr. Kelisha B. Graves serves as the Chief Research, Education, and Programs Officer at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, GA. She holds a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a concentration in higher education. As an educational philosophy, Dr. Graves believes in unconventional learning journeys that lead to deeply valuable outcomes. She is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research interests and teaching competencies resides at the nexus of education and the global Africana experience. Dr. Graves has delivered lectures to national and international audiences. Her book, Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Documentary Portrait of an Early Civil Rights Pioneer, 1900-1959 (May 2019) was published by the University of Notre Dame Press and represents the first work of its kind to focus on this early 20th century educationalist. 

Barbara Harrison serves as Director of External Affairs, Strategic Partnerships and Programs at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Her responsibilities include enhancing external relations, developing corporate relationships and strategic program initiatives for The King Center. Barbara’s leadership and support has been instrumental in furthering the facilitation of educating people across the nation and worldwide about Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence and reconciliation. Under her guidance and management of programs, The King Center continues to position itself as a leading resource of nonviolence education. During her tenure of 30 plus years, she’s served as a facilitator and trainer for The King Center’s Summer Institute on Nonviolence and later became a certified Kingian Nonviolence trainer with the program. Gwen Olton is a lifelong student of nonviolence and brings her unique background in mental health nursing and conflict transformation to her work as Interim Director at the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Rochester, NY. She is a passionate learner and practitioner of communication models and group processes that help transform conflicts to leverage for more systemic and liberatory change. She is an Appreciative Inquiry facilitator, member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, restorative process facilitator, transformative mediator, and an Apprentice Provider with the Nonviolent Global Liberation Community. Gwen studied philosophy (as well as geological sciences) at the University of Rochester, nursing at St. John Fisher College, and obtained a master’s in peace and conflict resolution from Arcadia University. She has a book on conflict transformation scheduled for publication in the Spring of 2022. 

Jonathan Lewis is a Social Cohesion Practitioner and Trainer with 20 years of experience in the field of conflict resolution and reconciliation. Lewis is the the founder the Positive Peace Warrior Network and has worked directly with organizations such as the Gathering for Justice and the National Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) during his professional career. Lewis currently focuses on educating individuals and organizations in the fundamental tenets of cultural equity to effectively promote social cohesion principles and mitigate racism in their own lives and communities. The Interfaith Center is offering this program in observance of The United Nations' World Interfaith Harmony Week (Annual UN Observance Week: Feb. 1-7, 2022). The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week. The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform—one week in a year—when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are. It is hoped that this initiative will provide a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities.

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