WISDOM Newsletter – April 2015

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters


Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events  

Wednesday, April 29th

The Dinner Party with Women of Note – an exciting event in the works for WISDOM women!!  See information below!

Thursday, May 14th

6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Five Women Five Journeys at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham

Tuesday, August 11th

10:30 – Noon

Five Women Five Journeys with the Senior Women’s Club of The Birmingham Community House


 Women of Note
Sharing the Stories of Women
Wednesday, April 29th
6-9 PM
First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham
1669 W. Maple, Birmingham, MI 48009

The Women of Note Banquet is…

a time to share stories of women who’ve mentored us, inspired us, perhaps raised us.  A banquet to honor great women or just ordinary women who conduct their lives with courage, dignity, presence or humor.  Come prepared to share your person’s story with those at your table.  Keep stories to 10 minutes so that we can fit them all into an hour and a half. Select a couple details of your “character” to give us insight into why you honor them.  Feel free to dress as your “character” or carry some prop to suggest their lives.  A few presenters will be selected to share with the whole group. Since this is also a banquet, each of you needs to contribute 1 item to serve 6-8.  Either an appetizer, side dish or salad, entrée, or dessert. You will need to register for this event by April 25 so that the room will be prepared for the correct number of people.


Use Sign-Up Genius www.signupgenius.com/go/409044ea4ab22a75-women


Or mail in the following information to WISDOM, P.O. Box 7091, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302


Name __________________________________________________

Character _____________________________________________

Food Contribution _____________________________________

Contact phone or email _________________________________________




Pain and Healing Across the Faith Traditions

Thurs., Apr. 16 at 6:30 p.m.


For many, a stumbling block to faith or religion is pain. Themes of pain and healing are common in many faith traditions, and we will discuss how different faiths approach the subject of pain and healing. Panelists include:


Rabbi Aaron Bergman (Jewish)

Reverend Daniel Buttry (American Baptist)

Imam Steve Elturk (Muslim)

Bill Secrest (Buddhist)


WISDOM: Five Women, Five Journeys

Thurs., May. 14 at 6:30 p.m.


This unique WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro-Detroit) program features personal stories of women of different faith traditions – how their childhood impacted their beliefs today, what the challenges are for women in their faith tradition, what parts of their religion are misunderstood, and how reaching out to someone from a different faith has enriched their lives. Panelists include:


Parwin Anwar (Muslim)

Paula Drewek (Baha’i)

Gail Katz (Jewish)

Jatinder Kaur (Sikh)

Amy Morgan (Christian)

Ellen Ehrlich (Moderator)


Baldwin Public Library

300 West Merrill, Birmingham, MI 48009

Save the Date for the 2015 Faith-Based Summit

The 2015 summit will highlight progress made by faith leaders on recruiting foster and adoptive parents and their success at providing supportive services to foster and adoptive children.


This event is also an opportunity to garner a commitment from faith leaders who are new to the Faith-Based Initiative on Foster Care and Adoption.


Additionally, it provides attendees with best practices and tools on how to build a coalition to recruit foster and adoptive parents and provide assistance to children in foster care.

May 19, 2015
8:30 a.m.4:00 p.m.
Radisson Hotel Lansing
111 N Grand Ave.
Lansing, MI 48933

Contact us if you have questions:

Trina D. Richardson at 231-398-8497 or richardsont12@michigan.gov 

Stephanie McCann at 517-373-2591 or mccanns5@michigan.gov


Hosted by the Department of Human Services in partnership with statewide faith community leaders.



On March 4th 150 Seventh Graders visited the Sikh Gurdwara Sahib Mata Tripta in Plymouth to learn about Sikhism.  What a fantastic day!  Here the students are learning about the Sikh turban, and having the chance to experience wearing one!  This wonderfully educational experience (called the Religious Diversity Journeys sponsored by the InterFaith Leadership Council) for the students and their parents ended with the vegetarian langar meal in the Langar Hall.  Students have already had the experience of visiting a Synagogue, a Mosque, and a Hindu Temple and will end the school year with a visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts to study the religious art!


Teens came together to do a service project packing dental
items in bags for the needy, in memory of the three young Muslims who were killed in the Chapel Hill, NC shooting.  One of the teens shared her personal story how this horrific event impacted
her personally!!

The Face to Faith Committee is so grateful
to the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills
for all their help in bringing teens together
to increase respect and understanding.
Our last event will be on April 30th
 at the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace in Berkley!

Vatican event seeks to gently
push Francis on women’s roles

An organization seeking to influence Pope Francis’ view of women — and to propose female professionals he might tap to lead high church offices — will be hosting a live-streamed event from the Vatican for the second time next month. Called Voices of Faith, the event will feature storytelling presentations from 10 women from various parts of the world who have overcome adversity or have reached the highest places available for women below the hierarchy’s stained-glass ceiling.

The event will be held March 8, the day marked as International Women’s Day, at the Vatican’s iconic Casina Pio IV, a white marble structure inside the Vatican Gardens that houses the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Organizer Chantal Götz said it is meant to symbolize that doors are opening for women in the Vatican as well as the huge potential the church hierarchy fails to use when it does not allow women key leadership roles. In the back of Götz’s mind is a hope to raise issues of inequality in church structures, she said.

“But of course knowing this church now and working with the Vatican for all of these years, you have to go through another channel,” Götz said. “Because very logically, once you hear all these women’s voices, they will realize that these women have a lot of talent and potential.”

“Once you create this pool of all these voices you’re going to raise, they will come and ask advice,” she continued, giving examples of questions like: “Who can we put on this-and-this commission? Who would be able to give advice on this-and-this conference?”

Götz is the executive director of the Fidel Götz Foundation, a Lichtenstein-based charitable trust that is planning the event alongside several partners, including the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and Caritas Internationalis, the international network of Catholic relief and development agencies.

The Voices of Faith event was held for the first time at the Vatican in March 2014, when it was a split between personal, touching stories of struggles women face in various parts of the world and conservative interpretations of church practices. This year, the scheduled speakers again include a wide range of perspectives, including a female Somali refugee who is studying in the United States and a former secretary general of Caritas who was essentially forced out of her job in 2011 by the Vatican. Speaking to NCR this week during a trip to Rome to make preparations for the March event, Götz spoke both of her hopes for its success and the struggles that organizers have faced in hosting a women-centered project at the Vatican. In one example of such struggles, Götz said even though her group has been planning the event for a year, they were only able to secure the Vatican location weeks ago after a meeting with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

While the event is live-streamed — meaning it can be watched by anyone through the Internet — Götz said the Vatican location is “important because it means the doors are open.” “To say that it is from the heart of the Vatican … it means that they agree in a way that the doors have to be open for these women,” she said. Götz also said highlighting women’s inequality in the church was not necessarily the event’s main goal, but she said she wants to show the unique abilities and perspectives women offer. “I’m totally convinced that many more women have more experience in certain things than any bishop or cardinal or any priest,” Götz said. “And this is all we offer.” “I think we should not push,” she continued. “But it’s completely the moment, I think. [Pope Francis] can say we have to give more space for the women, but I think so far, he doesn’t really know how to do it or how to promote it.”

“We just think we [can] help him and provide a kind of platform,” Götz said.

“There is a huge potential,” she said. “And even [at the Vatican], I’m convinced they know it. There is a huge potential. But it’s this kind of, ‘How can we work all together for the same [cause] that nobody feels threatened?’ ” Among the scheduled speakers at the March 8 event:

  • Suad Mohamed, a native Somali who lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for 17 years before moving to the United States for studies;
  • Ulla Gudmundson, a former Swedish ambassador to the Holy See;
  • Lesley-Anne Knight, a Zimbabwe-born laywoman who was the secretary general of Caritas until 2011, when the Vatican did not renew her four-year term at the organization;
  • Orthodox Christian Sr. Hatune Dogan, a native Turk who helps Christians persecuted in the Middle East.

There will also be a presentation by one man, Jesuit Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator. A native Nigerian who serves as the provincial of the Jesuit order’s province of East Africa, Orobator is to speak about the Nigerian women and girls kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram. This year, the Voices of Faith event is also launching a new prize to honor the work of women in addressing world hunger.

The Women Sowers of Development Prize is to be given jointly during the event by the Fidel Götz Foundation and Caritas to recognize organizations run by women that have developed best practices in that area. The prize consists of two awards, each worth 10,000 euro ($11,400), for one organization that is part of the Caritas network and another that is not. Götz said her foundation and Caritas received approximately 60 proposals for organizations to receive the awards, whose winners were chosen by juries organized by Caritas that included participation of Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the organization’s president and an adviser to Francis.

Götz also said she wanted to emphasize that she and her event want to work with the church hierarchy in recognizing and supporting women.

“We are not trying to do any harm to the church,” she said. “We are not trying to compromise them.”

“Let’s take the fear out of it,” she continued. “There’s nothing threatening about it. It’s really trying to do a good thing with the only aspect of course is … we tell it through the voices of these women. And this is, of course, something special.” Götz said she is evaluating the success of the event in both measurable and immeasurable ways.

In terms of numbers, she said she hopes the live-stream this year will attract about double the 700 people that last year’s did. She said she also hopes the event could in future years become self-supporting, possibly even turning into a self-financed, independent association of the church under papal blessing. But overall, Götz said she is hoping most for a kind of “mentality change.” “I think we all have to admit the women are the pillar of this church,” she said. “And if we don’t start now to act and appreciate them, I don’t know where we’re going.”

Putting some light on how extensive that mentality change might have to be, Götz shared how some bishops and cardinals she invited to the March event had asked what their role would be in the proceedings.

“Well, Bishop, your role would be you can sit, and you can enjoy, and you can listen,” Götz said she responded to those questions.

“For some, it’s quite difficult,” she continued. “They all want to talk. They’re not used to listening to different experiences of women.”


Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent.


How Norwegian Muslim ‘Peace Ring’ Changed Me

After four years covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a photojournalist, I’m not used to covering good news. Even before my recent relocation to Norway, land of the Peace Prize and Oslo Accords, it’s been easy to be cynical about institutionalized efforts to promote coexistence. But a recent grassroots effort by Norwegian Muslims surprised me. Not because they were Muslim, but because their relatively simple gesture – surrounding an Oslo synagogue with a “Ring of Peace” – achieved the kind of international attention typically reserved for, well, terrorist attacks.

“We thought that we as Muslims needed to show by action that the majority of us, and especially the youth, take a strong stand against anti-Semitism,” said Mudassar Muddi Mehmood, one of the event’s organizers. “We stand 100% with our Jewish brothers and sisters in the battle against hatred and extremism. If anyone wants to commit violence in the name of Islam, you have to go through us Muslims first.”

The response to their invitation amazed locals as well. The Times of Israel reported earlier in the week that Ervin Kohn, a leader of Norway’s Jewish community, had said that if fewer than 30 people would show up, he didn’t want to have the vigil. Saturday night, more than 1,000 supporters of all faiths flooded Bergstien Street in front of Oslo Synagogue in an overwhelming show of support – their number nearly equaling that of the entire Jewish population of Norway.

Waqas Sarwar, who also attended the vigil, noted another motivation for the show of solidarity: “The terrorist attack in Norway [by Anders Breivik on July 22, 2011] is still fresh in mind, and we as Muslims are also witnessing rising Islamophobia, which makes it easier for us to sympathize. No one should be killed or hurt solely based on their religious or political affiliations.”

“We hope that the event will strengthen our continuing good relations between our Jewish community and the Norwegian Muslim community,” said Marty Bashevkin, vice president of the Jewish Community of Oslo, who was “especially impressed by the fact that it has been arranged by Muslim young people, and with such a positive response.”

“Imagine,” added Bashevkin, “if events like this could be repeated around the world.”

This sentiment was echoed by Ikrame Chriqui, a Kurdish Norwegian in attendance: “I’m glad this is happening and I hope it happens in other countries too. I want to show people that not all Muslims hate Jews. We are all brothers and sisters, whether you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist or an atheist.”

 Information on the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) Scholarship for Young Adults!


The scholarship is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 35 who is currently involved in some form of interfaith or other social justice work. Scholarship recipients receive a stipend to attend the annual NAINConnect conference, which will take place this year from July 19-22, 2015 in Regina, Saskatchewan Canada.

The Young Adults page of the NAIN website

http://nain.org/connect/young/  has more details about the scholarship and the application process. All applications are due by Friday, April 17th.

Here is the direct link to the scholarship application page:


The purpose of NAIN is to create a network of the various interfaith organizations in North America, with the goal to come together every year for a conference (known as a “Connect”) to share best practices and get to know one another. Within NAIN, there is a group specifically for young adults. We are


a network of young leaders that are passionate about interfaith engagement. By attending the annual NAIN Connect, we gather to share with and learn from our peers. Many of us work, volunteer, intern with, or have founded interfaith projects and organizations.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have — I’d be happy to provide additional information about this scholarship opportunity!

Best wishes,

Hector Acero-Ferrer
Young Adult Committee
North American Interfaith Network

Héctor A. Acero Ferrer

Interfaith Intern, Youth and Young Adult Liaison

Scarboro Missions

2685 Kingston Road, Toronto, ON  M1M 1M4

Tel: (416) 838-9315

Five Women Five Journeys: How Different Are We?
 WISDOM Women together

This unique WISDOM program features personal stories of women of different faith traditions – how their childhood impacted their beliefs today, what the challenges are for women in their faith tradition, what parts of their religion are misunderstood, how reaching out to someone from a different faith has enriched their lives.
To inquire about a Five Women Five Journeys Program for your organization, contact Paula Drewek at Drewekpau@aol.com .

WISDOM Mission Statement

To Provide concrete modeling of women from different faith traditions working together in harmony for the common good.
To Empower women to take a more active role in furthering social justice and world peace.
To Dispel myths, stereotypes, prejudices and fear about faith traditions different from our own.
To Nurture the growth of empathy and spiritual energy that result from our projects and interfaith dialogue.


WISDOM is a Non-Profit Organization. Get involved with WISDOM!

WISDOM’s challenge is to bring together people from different faith traditions, ethnicities, races, and cultures in an atmosphere of safety and respect to engage in educational and community service projects. Let’s change our world through the positive power of building relationships!