On July 1, I officially began my tenure as Executive Director of the Interfaith Council. Rabbi Gerry Serotta has been working hard long before this week, though, to ensure that I have the greatest chance of success in this role. He leaves behind big shoes to fill, and I am both honored and humbled to have the opportunity to help lead IFC into its future.
The future of IFC truly does look bright, even given the present circumstances. Our finances are healthy, thanks to the faithful and generous donations so many of you have made (and continue to make!). Our staff is strong and includes a balance of long-tenured employees and recent arrivals. As one of the new arrivals, I am deeply grateful to the staff and volunteers who have been with IFC for many years, helping to create a religiously pluralistic community in our metro area.
Indeed, our metro area is overflowing with a beautiful diversity of faiths. One of the greatest gifts that IFC gives people through its programs is the opportunity to give and receive blessings to one another across lines of religious and spiritual difference. As a Christian, I have been blessed to receive wisdom from many faith traditions over the course of my lifetime. I am proud that the IFC commits itself so fully to interfaith dialogue, that such blessings may be shared in abundance.
Some of the greatest blessings I have received in my lifetime come from Buddhism. During my teenage and college years, I struggled with the faith tradition of my childhood. In the midst of that struggle, the teachings of Tibetan and Zen Buddhism came into my life through friends and professors. In the midst of that time, I was blessed to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak. His Holiness had come to Bloomington, Indiana, to officiate a Kālacakra (a rite of spiritual initiation). While in town, he delivered a talk at Assembly Hall about ethics in the new millennium. During his talk, he spoke completely without notes for what must have been an hour. He rarely turned to a translator, only asking for help when a word could not be easily translated into English. More than twenty years later, I continue to be shaped as a public speaker by the content and methods I experienced from the Dalai Lama. That was a profound blessing to receive, and it came about because His Holiness showed up and calmly shared his truth.
That kind of interaction – in which we show up and calmly share our truths with one another – is absolutely core to the work of the IFC. While we grieve that we cannot meet in person right now, we have also witnessed the blessing of a wider audience. Because that work has moved online, we now have the capacity to reach a global audience through programs like the Unity Walk and the Interfaith Concert. Also, be sure to mark your calendars now for those upcoming events! The Unity Walk will be on Sunday, September 13, and the Interfaith Concert will be on Thursday, November 19.
Now more than ever, in such divisive and lonely times, the mission of the IFC matters. We bring people together, rather than tearing them apart from one another. We build community, when so many are feeling isolated. We at the IFC create opportunities for interfaith dialogue so that religious pluralism may thrive. In this quarantined, online era, we are doing such sacred work through our website, Zoom, YouTube, and various forms of social media. We could not do such work without your generosity, and I want to personally thank you for your support. If you’d like to make a donation to help such work continue, you can do so through the “Donate Now” below.