Baha'i News -- Discussion of religions to mark Black History Month

Discussion of religions to mark Black History Month

A panel discussion of world religions and a potluck dinner are planned to bring Winfield-area residents together to mark Black History Month.

The discussion and dinner will be held Saturday, Feb. 23, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 10th and Millington. The event will begin with dinner and the discussion will follow. The evening is being organized by the local Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force.

“We felt we should be expanding our horizons and focusing on more than just race,” said Ron Shufflebarger, task force member. “Most people don't talk about religion. This is a chance to bring the discussion out into the open. Ignorance is where most persecution starts. The less ignorance we have, the less persecution. Knowledge can make us more united.”

Dick Merriman, president of Southwestern College, will chair the panel, with participants representing a variety of religions:

•Nabil Seyam, Islam. Seyam, who earned his doctorate in safety engineering, works for the Coleman Co. and has lived in Kansas 21 years. He is founder of the Annoor Islamic School and in 1990 was the only Arab-American held hostage in Kuwait. He was a hostage there for nearly three months.

•Howard Pitler, Judaism. Pitler is principal of the Brooks Technological School in Wichita and plays percussion in the Wichita Symphony. He is past president of Congregation Emanu-el.

•Dave Freeman, Baha'i'. Well-known to Kansans as a television meteorologist, Freeman has been a Baha'i' for nearly 25 years and has served his faith locally and regionally roles. He currently is a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Wichita, the elected governing body of the Wichita Baha'i' community.

•Mitzi Sullivan, Buddhism. Sullivan is an accountant with the city of Wichita as well as a part-time teacher in the General Equivalency Degree program. A Buddhist for 23 years, she has been involved in job training for the severely and multiply handicapped and also has taught high school.

•Ashak Aurora, Hinduism. Aurora was born in Bannu (now in Pakistan, near the Afghan border) and grew up in the Himalayan Mountains northwest of New Delhi. He began working for the U.S. embassy in New Delhi in 1958 and transferred to the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1963. Until 1980 when the Russians came, Aurora and his family remained, experiencing three coups and living in a curfew state for more than 10 years.

•Sally Fahrenthold, Christianity. Fahrenthold is an ordained pastor (now retired) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She currently serves as interim pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church, Wichita. Before entering the ordained ministry, she was associate director of Metropolitan Lutheran Ministry, Kansas City, Mo., developing community social services and serving networks for poor, hungry, homeless, elderly, disabled or other persons in need. She has served on the board of directors (including as president) of InterFaith Ministries and of Kansas Ecumenical Ministries.

Panel members will have a set time to discuss their faith in terms of several basic questions, and questions will be taken from the audience if time allows, Shufflebarger sald.

Participant are asked to bring a dish to share and their own table service. Drinks will be provided for the meal. For more information, call Ron Shufflebarger, 221-2911, or Gayle McPherson, 221-7085.


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